FIRST EDITION OF SINGING FAMILY OF THE CUMBERLANDS, 1955, ILLUSTRATED BY MAURICE SENDAK, FROM THE COLLECTION OF SENDAK'S CLOSE FRIEND AND NEIGHBOR
RITCHIE, Jean and SENDAK, Maurice. Singing Family of the Cumberlands. New York: Oxford University Press, 1955. Octavo, original green cloth, original dust jacket. $600.
First edition of the children's book about a family of 16 in Kentucky that is committed to singing folk songs, beautifully illustrated by Maurice Sendak and with music for 42 folk songs. From the collection of Sendak's close friend and neighbor.
"Jean Ritchie, a 1946 graduate of the University of Kentucky, wrote Singing Family of the Cumberlands about her maternal grandfather and his fourteen children living in Viper, Kentucky in the Cumberland Mountains" (University of Kentucky). This is an early example of Sendak's book illustration. Hanrahan A20. The former owner of this book was Maurice Sendak's neighbor, Andrew, from Ridgefield, Connecticut. Sendak bought a home and studio in Ridgefield in 1972 with his longtime partner, Eugene Glynn, and lived there until his death. Andrew first encountered Sendak in 1975 during one of his daily dog walks. (Sendak owned many dogs throughout his life, and they often starred in his books.) Andrew was immediately taken with Sendak, who reminded him of his recently deceased father. One day, Andrew called Sendak at home and asked if he could join him on his walks. Andrew and Sendak thus embarked on a 37-year friendship that also included the Andrew's mother, Betty, as well as Andrew's brother. Sendak went on long walks and hikes with Andrew and his family regularly, discussing general life events, opera, and books. He also invited them into his studio to show off works in progress. Andrew's mother, Betty, was an avid reader and collector and she and Sendak would talk late into the night about books. Sendak offered Betty advice about how to find and authenticate rare children's books, which she used to build her collection. Additionally, he frequently bartered for autographs (i.e. a cake for an inscribed drawing). The many inscribed drawings, along with first editions, signed books, limited edition books, and other valuable items grew into one of the country's premier Sendak collections.
Book very nearly fine, corner-clipped dust jacket extremely good with slightest soiling and light wear and toning mainly to extremities. An attractive copy.