"THIS COMES AT THE END OF THE MOST CRITICALLY TROUBLED PERIOD OF MY LIFE… I BELIEVE I CAN WRITE A GOOD NOVEL, PERHAPS MY GREATEST": ZANE GREY'S OWN MANUSCRIPT DIARY DETAILING THE EXTENSIVE PACKING LIST FOR HIS 1932-33 TRIP TO NEW ZEALAND AND TAHITI AND TRANSITIONING INTO A WRITING LOG SHARING HIS ATTEMPTS TO DIG HIMSELF OUT OF CRITICAL AND FINANCIAL RUIN BY WRITING "A GOOD NOVEL"
GREY, Zane. Manuscript notebook ("Baggage Notebook May 1932 33 New Zealand & Tahiti"). New Zealand and Tahiti, 1933. Small, slim octavo, original limp coated and pattern-stamped brown calf, autograph cover label. Housed in a custom half morocco clamshell box. $8500.
Manuscript diary, written entirely in Zane Grey's hand, including a 32-page packing list for Grey's 1932-33 trip to New Zealand and Tahiti focusing on fishing gear, as well as a writing log maintained during the trip tracing the daily progress of Twin Sombreros, Ride the Man Down, 30,000 on the Hoof, and "Horse Thief" and sharing Grey's in-depth thoughts at the completion of each work.
This revealing manuscript diary, written entirely in Zane Grey's hand, was kept from 1932-33 before and during his trip to Tahiti and New Zealand. The trip was undertaken as a publicity stunt, meant to bolster Grey's flagging career. Completely broke, Grey enlisted the Vanderbilts to pay for his adventure, knowing that their son, George, was interested in exotic sport-fishing and that Grey's expertise would be a selling point. Moreover, the Vanderbilts, losing popularity in the Depression, stood to benefit from a positive media blitz that associated them with an American cultural icon. The trip proved disastrous. Unrest during his trip—unemployment riots in New Zealand and Tahitian price-increases driven by Japanese sabre-rattling—meant that Grey quickly ran through the $4000 he brought with him. Back at home, his wife, Dolly, fought heroically to keep their family afloat as book and movie contracts dried up at collapsing publishing houses and studios. Writing from across the world, Grey leveled accusations at Dolly about money mismanagement and withholding. Dolly, meanwhile, encouraged a mercurial Grey to keep writing even as she padded her letters with humor and warmth, knowing that his books were their only hope of surviving the Depression. Grey succeeded, but the cost to their marital life was extreme. Grey would spend the rest of his life traveling further and further afield. This diary offers a first-person glimpse into Grey's thoughts and motivations during one of the most challenging periods of his life. The first 32 pages of the diary detail the extensive packing preparations, focusing in large part on fishing supplies for catching exotic fish and sea-life including marlin, mako, and sharks. The various lists include everything from tents to a whale harpoon and from a soldering outfit to "underwear for boatmen." The most interesting pages, however, concern Grey's writing endeavors upon reaching the Pacific islands. Over the course of 17 pages, he carefully charts his daily writing progress on Twin Sombreros, Ride the Man Down, 30,000 on the Hoof, and the short story "Horse Thief." While his daily progress is marked by a tally of pages completed and short comments such as "hard transition!"; "good work"; and "very bad hot bad day"; the completion of each work is followed by lengthy musings on his feelings about writing that novel or story. About Twin Sombreros, Grey writes: "Finished this novel gave little or no trouble in the writing. Only a few hard drills!" Ride the Man Down shows continuing confidence: "This novel of 500 pages I wrote at Tahiti, mostly in early morning 5 to 730 & 6 to 730, and in 71 days, in the main without wear or worry, though this provincial trouble was at its height. It demonstrates that I can write anywhere at any time." Yet, in the next major entry, Grey is more conflicted, struggling to convince himself that his financial and career problems are surmountable: "This comes at the end of the most critically troubled period of my life. 1931-32 were my hard years. We saw my financial ruin almost consummated. I begin this novel under that shadow, that strain, that burden, fully conscious of the gravity of the crisis. But I am not afraid, I believe it can be done! I believe I can write a good novel, perhaps my greatest at this time." The entries that follow show Grey continuing to struggle, always promising to return to his old self and yet with his daily logs nearly always showing writing difficulty. Eventually, Grey fell ill on his trip back to the United States from Tahiti, perhaps weighed down by his continuing financial and personal difficulties, which were only alleviated through the film industry's wholehearted embrace of his works and the end of the Depression. The final entry, likely written at a much later date, references 1934-35 writing logs, which Grey states have been maintained elsewhere. Overall, this diary provides unparalleled insight into Grey as both sportsman and author. "Zane Grey" blindstamp. Pencil calculation involving dates. Laid in scrap paper.
Interior fine, a bit of wear to binding and cover label. Extremely good condition. Rare and unique.