Inscribed by the Author to Her (and Her Husband's) Former Lover

THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING. A PLAY.

(New York: New Directions, [1951]). 210 x 137 mm. (8 1/4 x 5 1/4"). 5 p.l., 118 pp. FIRST EDITION in play form.

Publisher's red cloth boards, flat spine with title in darker red lettering. In the original dust jacket with a photograph of a scene from the Broadway production on the front. In a fine linen clamshell box, black buckram label on the spine. Frontispiece illustration of Lester Polakov's sketch for the set of the Broadway production. Front free endpaper with SIGNED PRESENTATION INSCRIPTION FROM MCCULLERS TO DAVID DIAMOND: "Dearest David / tenderly / Carson"; title page with ownership blind-stamp of David Diamond. See: Virginia Spencer Carr, "The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers." Light rubbing to extremities, but a mint copy of the book in an excellent jacket (with half-inch tear to crease of front flap and minor creasing to the adjacent area on the front).

This is an extraordinary association copy of McCullers' most successful theatrical adaptation, based on her poignant semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story. Originally published as a novel in 1946, "The Member of the Wedding" is told through the eyes of Frankie Addams, a 12-year-old girl whose older brother is about to get married. With her mother deceased and her father reserved and unapproachable, Frankie feels disconnected with those around her and fixates on the upcoming wedding, becoming increasingly convinced that she belongs with and to the betrothed couple, saying "They are the we of me." McCullers adapted the novel into a play, starring Ethel Waters and Julie Harris, which opened on Broadway in 1950 and ran for 501 performances; in 1952 it was turned into a film. Carson McCullers (1917-67) was born in Columbus, Georgia, and moved to New York City at the age of 17--ostensibly to study piano at Julliard, but instead taking odd jobs while attending night school and working on her writing. She met and married Reeves McCullers in 1937, and three years later published her first novel, "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," to critical acclaim. Carson had a tumultuous personal life involving frequent bouts of poor health, battles with alcoholism, and a complicated relationship with her husband. Both partners were bisexual, and at one point found themselves in love with the same person--American composer David Diamond (1915-2005). As noted in McCullers’ biography by Virginia Spencer Carr, Diamond acknowledged his own feelings for both Carson and Reeves in his diary in 1941: "What has happened to me since meeting Carson and now Reeves, her husband[?] . . . [Carson’s] . . . magnetism and strange sickly beauty stifles me, gnaws at me, and I know it is that I love these two human beings. It is a great love I feel. It will nourish me or destroy me." (p. 148) The resulting love triangle was intense, profoundly emotional, and, ultimately, unsustainable; it also partly inspired the present work, as well as aspects of Carson's collection of stories titled "The Ballad of the Sad Café." Despite the inevitable change in their relationship, Carson and Diamond maintained a devoted friendship over the following years, and the present work could hardly have a more desirable association: inscribed "Dearest David / tenderly / Carson," the author communicates in a few words the deep emotional connection and loving kindness still felt a decade after their first fateful meeting.
(ST17073)