Kenneth Roberts Memorabilia: The Lively Lady ASE

Last week I wrote about a new (to me) find regarding Kenneth Roberts books – the American Services Editions of The Lively LadyNorthwest PassageArundel, and Captain Caution. I’m surprised, honestly, that for all the years I’ve been reading and collecting Roberts’ books (20 years?) I’ve never heard of or seen the ASE editions. So last week was a bit of a treat to ‘discover’ something ‘new.’

This week I received an ASE copy of The Lively Lady. Honestly, they’re nothing to write home about. The binding is simple, there are no pictures or prints, and the covers look more like an advertisement than the front cover of a novel. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but hold the book in wonder because I knew that a U.S. serviceman once carried this book with him while serving during war. As you can see in one of the images below, the book I have was once issued to an Alan L. Hunnicutt of the Corps of Engineers.

I have no idea who Hunnicutt is, but my mind is flooded with questions. Who was he? What did he think of the novel? Did it pass hands to other soldiers? What was Hunnicutt’s fate? And so much more. Perhaps these questions will never be answered. Nonetheless, this ASE (as with all others) is a piece of American history – definitely a treasure worth keeping.

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Kenneth Roberts’ Books: ‘Lively Lady’ Armed Services Edition (Update)

***I’ve updated this post in light of a comment left by a Roberts fan in Facebook. I’m keeping the original content and adding the update at the end.***

Just when you think you know your favorite author well, a surprise comes out of nowhere on the ever-expansive Internet. It’s been a while since I’ve last posted on this site, so last night I was scouring the Google news search feature to find any Kenneth Roberts tidbits to share. I was not disappointed.

Ten months ago, Nancy Noble (Archivist/Cataloger at the Maine Historical Society) wrote a very interesting piece for Bowdoin College’s “Community” section of their website, titled “‘With books in their pockets’: Armed Service Editions at Special Collections.” According to Noble, she recently had the opportunity to be a researcher at Bowdoin College Library’s archives department. Noble’s work has included “cataloging the World War I pamphlet collection” at MHS, and during her work she stumbled across a book titled “When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning. Continue reading

Kenneth Roberts Memorabilia: 1938 Parker Pen Ad

Today, July 18, is my birthday. As I’ve grown older, and especially when my two youngest daughters were born five days and 10 days after my birthday, I have become rather specific and picky as to what I want for my birthday. Yes, I still get birthday gifts, but I don’t expect to get a lot of gifts (as one does when they are a child); rather, some money to go to Half Price Books or to go to Music-G0-Round for my drums usually fits the bill. However, the previous fourteen birthdays have primarily been gifts toward books for my education. Occasionally would I get something for my drum set or a book that was outside the realm of my studies.

Parker Vacumatic pen ad featuring Kenneth Roberts in 1938

Parker Vacumatic pen ad featuring Kenneth Roberts in 1938

This year is different, however, as I am no longer in school.  I found a couple of Kenneth Roberts items on the web and pointed them out to my wife. One item that I received today for my birthday is a great ad from 1938. It is an ad for Parker Vacumatic pens featuring Kenneth Roberts. This ad is perfect for me in two ways: first, I am obviously a big Kenneth Roberts fan. Second, I really like old Parker pens. I have two Parker 51 pens that are still in working condition, and a Parker 61 pen/pencil set that has never been used (by the way, be sure to visit Parker51.com – a wonderful site on everything Parker 51). So, the Parker Vacumatic ad really combines two things like enjoy collecting: Kenneth Roberts works and old fountain pens (particularly Parker pens).

Several features about this ad stand out. First, it links a best-selling author with the use of a best-selling pen. Roberts had just published the best-selling Northwest Passage in 1937, and by using his likeness, Parker was riding Roberts’ wave of popularity. Behind Roberts’ picture is the first page of Roberts’ manuscript for Northwest Passage. The caption to the left of Roberts’ image reads:

In drafting the manuscript of Northwest Passage, his great novel of French and Indian wars and the gargantuan Major Robert Rogers, Kenneth Roberts wrote more than 2,000,000 words with his Parker Vacumatic; then rewrote and altered his rough draft to its final version of 300,000 words. The same unfailing pen helped Mr. Roberts create his famous portraits of Cap Huff and Benedict Arnold in Arundel and Rabble in Arms; King Dick, Capt. Boyle and Daniel Marvin in Lively Lady and Captain Caution.

While the ad’s mention of Roberts’ manuscript’s 2,000,000 words clearly intends to highlight the Parker Vacumatic’s durability and reliability, it also points to Roberts’ detailed and diligent work he put into his novels. Having just finished a dissertation that entailed editing and revising, I just cannot fathom writing 2,000,000 words, only to cut out 85% percent for a final tally of 300,000. I cringe at such a thought.

A second feature that stands out is the small print to the lower left-hand side of the ad. In small print, one reads:

 No payment has been or will be made to Mr. Roberts, for the use of his name in this advertisement; and the Parker Pen Company, at his and to show its appreciation, will this summer provide funds to send a welfare worker with the Grenfell Mission to Labrador.

No doubt Roberts had every right to accept money from Parker for the use of his name and image; however, I find that this statement sheds light on a side of Kenneth Roberts that is often overshadowed by his outspoken personality. (For information on the Grenfell Mission, visit this link. The mission was started by Wilfred Grenfell to establish permanent medical care in Labrador and the surrounding area.)

This ad is an amazing piece of history, particularly in the information one can glean about Kenneth Roberts the man. So, when looking through old magazines, don’t ignore the old ads. You never know what you may discover!

March to QuebecP.S. I stated above that I found a couple of items on the web. The second item is a first edition copy of March to Quebec with the dust jacket, both in good condition. I’m very excited about this find as well; I’ve been looking for this book for quite some time in antique stores, used book stores, etc., and could not find it. So, I had to resort to the web (thank you abebooks.com!). Nevertheless, I am excited and have it on my nightstand as we speak, waiting to be read.

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