"FROM HER CORRUPTER, F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, 'DON'T CRY LITTLE GIRL, MAYBE SOMEDAY SOMEONE WILL COME ALONG WHO'LL MAKE YOU A DISHONEST WOMAN'": AN EXTRAORDINARY RARITY—SPLENDID PRESENTATION COPY OF THE GREAT GATSBY IN DUST JACKET, TOGETHER WITH AN ORIGINAL AUTOGRAPH POEM SIGNED BY FITZGERALD TO THE SAME RECIPIENT, HIS CLOSE FRIEND MOVIE ACTRESS CARMEL MYERS
FITZGERALD, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. WITH: Autograph poem signed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1925. Octavo, original green cloth, dust jacket (possibly supplied). Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. Together with four-line autograph poem signed by Fitzgerald and dated 1931, one large quarto leaf, measuring 7-1/2 by 9-1/2 inches, penned in ink on recto and verso; handsomely window framed, entire piece measures 15 by 19 inches.
Extraordinary presentation first edition, second printing (as almost always with inscribed copies), in the famous first-issue dust jacket, inscribed on the front free endpaper to actress Carmel Myers: "To Carmel Myers from her Corrupter, F. Scott Fitzgerald 'Don't cry, little girl, Maybe someday someone will come along who'll make you a dishonest woman.' Los Angeles." Offered together with a delightful four-line autograph poem, boldly signed, dated and presented by Fitzgerald to Myers, thanking her for her hospitality, additionally inscribed and signed by director Joseph Mankiewicz and actor George E. Stone, among others.
Noted critic Cyril Connolly called Gatsby one of the half dozen best American novels: "It remains a prose poem of delight and sadness which has by now introduced two generations to the romance of America, as Huckleberry Finn and Leaves of Grass introduced those before it" (The Modern Movement, 48).
This wonderful presentation copy is from Fitzgerald to his good friend actress Carmel Myers, whom he met in Rome in 1924 while she was making the movie Ben Hur. Years later, Myers wrote of their meeting: “Two of the most beautiful people I have ever seen came down the stairway at the Excelsior Hotel in Rome—college kids, I mentally catalogued them, swayed, perhaps, by the fact that he wore a raccoon coat and she carried a rag doll under her arm as big as she was herself. ‘Who are they?’ I wondered. That was my first glimpse of the Scott Fitzgeralds, who afterwards were to be my very good friends.” After socializing in Rome, Myers met them again in 1927. “Fitzgerald got a chance to fulfill his old threat to go to Hollywood and learn the movie business; John Considine of United Artists asked him to come out to do a ‘fine modern college story’… After some jockeying Fitzgerald agreed to go for $3500 down and $8500 on the acceptance of the story, for they needed the money too much to refuse an offer of this kind… They reached Los Angeles and settled at the Ambassador. They were given a big welcome, receiving the royal recognition of lunch at Pickfair, making friends with Lillian Gish, and renewing their friendship with Carmel Myers, to whom Fitzgerald inscribed a copy of The Great Gatsby with his old gaiety: “For Carmel Myers from her Corrupter F. Scott Fitzgerald. ‘Don’t cry, little girl, maybe some day someone will come along who’ll make you a dishonest woman’ Los Angeles.” Almost immediately they found themselves part of a congenial group which included Carl Van Vechten, John Barrymore, Richard Barthelmess, and Lois Moran. Fitzgerald was fascinated by Lois Moran and she by him… There was a whirl of parties, night clubs, and practical jokes. At a tea of Carmel Myer’s Fitzgerald made himself what one gossip columnist described as ‘conspicuous by [his] presence’ by collecting watches and jewelry from the guests and boiling the whole collection in a couple of cans of tomato soup on the kitchen stove” (Arthur Mizener). Myers, then only 28 years old, spent time with the Fitzgeralds in their bungalow. Both Zelda and Scott gave her “definite instructions that no matter what time I came home from a date, I had to report in and give an account of where I went and with whom. Scott was usually at the typewriter, and Zelda, pretty as a picture, in a housecoat reading or writing.” She also invited them to the famous dinner party where they both arrived dressed in pajamas, Myers having told them to “come as you are” (Myers). “When Fitzgerald finally completed his story… it was rejected. ‘At that time,’ he said years later, `I had been generally acknowledged for several years as the top American writer both seriously and, as far as prices went, popularly. I … was confidant to the point of conceit. Hollywood made a big fuss over us and the ladies all looked very beautiful to a man of thirty. I honestly believed that with no effort on my part I was a sort of magician with words… Total result—a great time and no work’… [when they left Hollywood] it was reported that they stacked all the furniture in the center of their room at the Ambassador” (Arthur Mizener).
Myers and F. Scott Fitzgerald met several times over the years, both in New York and in California. On one visit to Hollywood in 1931, Myers (then married) invited him to a party at her house. “When he came in, my husband, referring to a drink, asked ‘What do you want?’ ‘To take a shower,’ Scott answered, deadpan. Ralph showed him to the guest bathroom, where Scott remained for half an hour or so… That night he wrote in my guest book” the poem that is included here. Fitzgerald wrote, "Crazy pajamas and heaven's guitars / Never, oh never the twain shall meet. / Never mind though; the advantage is ours; / Reach for a Carmel instead of a sweet. / F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1931." The last line of Fitzgerald's inscription, "Reach for a Carmel," is a play on the then-current cigarette advertisement, "Reach for a Camel." Fitzgerald's inscription shares the page with several autograph inscriptions thanking Myers for her hospitality. Mankiewicz writes, "November 1931, It's money in my pocket, of course but the food was good! I always like to go out to dinner Joe (Because-Herman-likes-nice-things) Mankiewicz." Fitzgerald worked in both Hollywood and Vaudeville with Mankiewicz. George E. Stone writes: "To two very charming people, Carmel & Ralph had a lovely time but you both fell asleep on us you big eggs. Love & best always, Geo. E. Stone."
The book's iconic dust jacket, designed by Francis Cugat, is in itself something of a legend. According to one account, the jacket was actually commissioned months before the book was completed and Fitzgerald was so inspired by the haunting image of the eyes that he wrote a scene around it ("For Christ's sake don't give anyone that jacket," he wrote to Perkins. "I've written it into the book"). Not only is the dust jacket one of the most recognizable of the 20th century, it is also one of the rarest. This first-issue dust jacket has the hand-corrected "J" over the lowercase "j" in "jay Gatsby" on the back cover, indicating that it was one of the earliest printed. On this copy the "J" has been overstamped rather than hand-lettered as noted in Bruccoli; both types of corrections are known, and no priority has been established. (In the second printing jackets the "j" is corrected and re-set in type; a third printing of the jackets was issued later in 1925, which included blurbs and reviews).
The book is first edition, second printing, correcting a few minor textual errors. The first printing of over 20,000 copies of Gatsby was issued in April, 1925, and by August of that year a second printing was issued of only 3000 copies. It is believed that the third printing of the jacket was produced for the second printing of the book, although it seems that second printings of the book were sometimes paired with earlier issues of the jacket. That being said, we cannot be certain that this first-issue jacket was with this inscribed book at the time that Fitzgerald presented it to Myers; it may have been supplied at a later date. What is certain that sometime within the past 20 years or so the jacket was restored. Bruccoli A11: Ib.
Book very nearly fine with most minute rubs to spine ends; very scarce first-issue dust jacket bright and lovely with expert restoration. Inscribed copies of any printing of this greatest of 20th-century American novels are most rare; significant presentation copies of the first edition are almost unobtainable (only one having appeared at auction in at least 35 years). An extraordinary rarity with superb presentation, and arguably the most sought after presentation in 20th-century American literature, together with a charming original four-line autograph poem from Fitzgerald to the same recipient.