1902 PLANTATION BIRD LEGENDS Martha Young ALABAMA AFRICAN-AMERICAN / SLAVE FOLKLORE First Edition SIGNED & INSCRIBED + Laid-In Handwritten Letter
PLANTATION BIRD LEGENDS, by MARTHA YOUNG, with illustrations by J.M. Condé.
NEW YORK: R. H. Russell, 1902. First edition, first printing, with the statement "First Impression, October, 1902" on the copyright page with no indication of additional printings.
The book is dedicated 'To all the Dear Namesakes of E.Y. and A.E.Y.' (Elisha Young and Anne Eliza Young, Martha Young and her siblings' parents.)
SIGNED and INSCRIBED by the AUTHOR, MARTHA YOUNG, to her SISTER, ANN ELIZA MUCKLE, on the front free endpaper:
"To Ann Eliza Muckle / One of the Namesakes / With the love of her sister / Martha Young".
LAID-IN is a HANDWRITTEN LETTER by Martha Young to her sister "Mrs. Alfred Muckle". It is written on 1 1/2 pages of a 4 page single fold sheet of paper. Much of the handwriting is indecipherable to me, but here is how it begins: "Dearest Fredie: / This may be a help to you. If Fettie comes through and I see her I will ask if she has the book of..." The letter is signed/initialed M.Y. and dated (?) 20, 1934. On the folded backside it is addressed to Mrs. Alfred Muckle / Courtesy of Agnes Tutwiler". (AGNES TUTWILER was a relative of Martha Young; FREDIE likely was Martha Young's nickname for her married sister.)
Hardcover Book, illustrated covers, 249 pages. ILLUSTRATED with a frontispiece photograph "Witch Menées Child" and 27 b&w drawings. Though the drawings and their captions are meant to illustrate the folktales and dialects of Southern Blacks (mostly former slaves), and were widely admired by writers of the day, many would be considered racist today.
FAIR condition. The covers are soiled with a scattering of scrapes, the rear cover has some water staining to its bottom edge, the spine is substantially scraped and rubbed; nonetheless the covers are still solid and doing their job. Internally, the front inner hinge is cracked but holding well, there is foxing primarily to the first and last few pages, light finger smudges here and there, and one page has a thumbprint size chip to its front margin (not affecting text) and another with a 2 inch closed tear, else the inner pages remain tight, clean, clear and unmarked. All 27 b&w plates are present, a few have a bit of foxing. The laid-in letter has folds, creases, smudging and some stains, but the text remains clear (though the handwriting is difficult).
About MARTHA YOUNG (from Wikipedia and the Alabama Women's Hall Of Fame websites):
******Martha Strudwick Young, b.1862 d.1941, was an American regionalist writer known for her recounting of Southern folk tales, fables, and songs of Black life in the plantation era. She was admired by other writers for her skill with dialect. Young was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1986.
Martha Strudwick Young was the daughter of Confederate surgeon Elisha Young and Anne Eliza Ashe (Tutwiler) Young. The women's education and prison reform advocate Julia Strudwick Tutwiler was her aunt. Her family moved to Greensboro after the Civil War, and it was there that she learned the Southern folk tales and stories of African-American culture that would form the basis of her writings.
In 1901 Young published her first book, Plantation Songs for My Lady's Banjo and Other Negro Lyrics & Monologues. She followed up in 1902 with Plantation Bird Legends, which established her reputation as a leading writer of dialect tales. Young was one of a group of regional writers who helped to popularize the use of dialect as an adjunct to realism, including George Washington Cable, Kate Chopin, Mary Noailles Murfree, and Joel Chandler Harris. She has been called "Alabama's foremost folklorist."
From her 1986 induction into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame: "During a life which bridged two centuries, she recorded a rapidly disappearing culture, preserving it as a heritage for future generations."******