"MAZEL TOV!": FIRST EDITION OF IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN, INSCRIBED WITH A SELF-PORTRAIT SKETCH BY MAURICE SENDAK
SENDAK, Maurice. In The Night Kitchen. [New York]: Harper and Row, (1970). Tall thin quarto, original white cloth, mounted cover illustration, original dust jacket. $6500.
Scarce first edition, advance review copy, of this wonderfully illustrated classic, inscribed for Burt Britton, the avid book collector and co-founder of Books & Co: "For Burt—Mazel-Tov! Maurice Sendak. Dec. '70," with a small self-portrait by Sendak (presumably casting himself as Mickey). With publisher's advance review slip laid in.
Sendak's homage to New York City and the movies of the 1930s, In the Night Kitchen "spins the reader through the surreal fantasy of a child's dream, like Alice into Wonderland or Dorothy into Oz." Like most of Sendak's work, Kitchen is "a celebration of the primal, sensory world of childhood and an affirmation of its imaginative potency" (Silvey, 586). It was a Caldecott Honor book in 1971. First-issue dust jacket, without the Caldecott medal affixed. Hanrahan A75. This copy is inscribed to Burt Britton, an avid book collector and eventually the co-founder of Books & Co in New York City. While working as a bartender at Village Vanguard in New York, Burt Britton found himself alone with Norman Mailer. When Mailer asked Britton, "What do you want from me, Kid?" after last call, Britton replied that he wanted Mailer to draw him a self-portrait. Mailer did and so began a lifelong collecting interest. Britton collected hundreds of self-portraits—first while working at Vanguard and later while working at the Strand bookstore. He solicited self-portraits from novelists such as Truman Capote and Jorge Luis Borges, from musicians such as Miles Davis, and even from sports stars such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Before long, he was the owner of an exceptionally valuable collection. Random House eventually bought book rights to a selection of the portraits in 1976 as Self-Portrait: Book People Picture Themselves. In 1978, Britton moved to Books and Co. and continued his collection. This book contains a self-portrait sketch by Maurice Sendak, apparently implying that Mickey from In the Night Kitchen is him (or perhaps that all of his characters are him, as his self-portrait sketch in Where the Wild Things Are portrayed him as a Wild Thing).
Book fine, bright, corner-clipped dust jacket with only slightest rubbing to extremities. A very nearly fine inscribed copy with a wonderful provenance.