FIRST EDITION OF NORTH OF THE DANUBE, WITH TEXT BY ERSKINE CALDWELL AND PHOTOGRAVURES BY MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE, SIGNED BY BOTH CALDWELL AND BOURKE-WHITE—WITH HER RARELY SEEN SIGNATURE OF MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE CALDWELL
CALDWELL, Erskine. North of the Danube. New York: Viking, (1939). Quarto, original beige linen, cartographic endpapers, original photographic dust jacket. $3200.
First edition of the second photobook co-authored by photographer Bourke-White and novelist Caldwell, signed on the half title by both Caldwell and Bourke-White, with her signing as Margaret Bourke-White Caldwell, possibly very soon after their marriage the same month this book was published, with text by Caldwell and 79 evocative black-and-white photogravures by Bourke-White.
Newlyweds Caldwell and Bourke-White followed their classic 1937 work, You Have Seen Their Faces, with this compelling photobook about a country on the edge of war—for by the time North of the Danube appeared, Czechoslovakia had already been invaded by Germany. "When historians come to write the story of the downfall in 1938 and early 1939 of the Czecho-Slovak Republic," wrote a reviewer in 1939, "they will find many clues in the simple stories Caldwell tells and perhaps even more information in the superb pictures taken by his collaborator… revealing the photographic and artistic genius of Margaret Bourke-White" (New York Times).
This copy, signed by both Caldwell and Bourke-White, is exceedingly scarce—and her signature as Bourke-White Caldwell—rarely seen—is especially significant in that they were married the same month this was issued, February 1939. Their marriage, which lasted barely three years, was stormy. Within months of publication Bourke-White was on overseas assignment for Life magazine, and their marriage "began to crumble. By the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the two were leading separate lives" (Signorielli, Women in Communication, 26). The first woman accredited as a war correspondent, Bourke-White was overseas on assignment in November 1942 when she received a telegram from Caldwell, then back in the United States. In it, he stated that their marriage "must dissolve immediately." Stunned, she cabled back for an explanation. He replied: "have waited four years for something better than this." Two days after their divorce was finalized in December 1943, Caldwell married a 21-year-old college student, June Johnson (Miller, Erskine Caldwell, 315-17). Bruccoli & Clark, 90. See Open Book, 124; Parr & Badger I:140; Roth, 94.
Book fine; scant rubbing, faintest toning to spine of bright about-fine dust jacket.