Library

A Witness Tree (1942)

Two versions of advance announcements for this work are known.  One is a prospectus ([4] pp.), reproducing a wood engraving by J. J. Lankes (not used in the published book) on the front and the frontispiece portrait by Enit Kaufman (reduced) on p. [2]; copies are known with either the publisher or the Housatonuc Bookshop listed on the order blank on p. [4].  The other announcement is a postcard, unillustrated, addressed to Brown & Delhi.  Copies of the announcements found in specific copies of the work are noted below; all copies are in file with call number: File RFA 42.2 1942 prospectus.  Other versions of either of these, with other booksellers’ names, may exist.

There are unanswered questions about the history of the trade printings.  Crane records the date of publication of the first printing as April 6, more than two weeks before the publication of the limited printing, but that may have been instead the date Holt ordered the printing; an inscription in the Bernheimer copy indicates that, as was normal practice, the trade and limited printings were issued simultaneously on April 23.  Also, Holt records and the list on the verso of the title leaf of the 6th printing indicate that there were six printings, issued in April, June, and September 1942, March/April 1943, February/March 1944, and June 1959.  But in the various printings at Amherst, the dates or printing information on the copyright page read “FIRST PRINTING,” “SECOND PRINTING,” “June, 1942,” “March, 1943,” “February, 1944,” and “June, 1959.”  (The Holt records for the 1943 and 1944 printings show a date one month later than printed, probably reflecting the difference between printing date and publication date.)  Were copies with “SECOND PRINTING” those of June 1942, and those with “June, 1942” actually published in September?  Or was there a second printing May 1942, unrecorded in the Holt records?  Or did copies of the September third printing have an erroneous printing statement?  The matter remains a puzzle.  In this listing, copies with “SECOND PRINTING” are recorded before those with “June, 1942.”

RFA
42.2
1942
First printing (limited to 735 copies, signed by Frost; issued in a slip-case).  4 copies (copies 1-2 have no thumb cut-outs on the slip-case; copies 3-4 have them — there is no apparent priority).
*Copy 1 is no. 500, with the bookplate of George Frisbie Whicher (Class of 1910).  Accompanied by a copy of the prospectus with the Holt address, and of the postcard announcement with the Brown & Delhi address (both removed and placed in file with call number: File RFA 42.2 1942 prospectus).  Gift of the Estate of George F. Whicher.
*Copy 2 is no. 111, inscribed by Frost to Martin K. Howes (Class of 1926), Cambridge, 1942, with the full text of “A Cloud Shadow.”  Gift of Martin K. Howes.
*Copy 3 is no. 67, one of several copies remaining in stock at the publisher ca. 1990.  Gift of Henry Holt and Company.
*Copy 4 is signed by Frost but unnumbered; in place of the number is an inscription by the printer: “Printer’s copy, for Newton McKeon from Joe Blumenthal, September ’82 in Cream Hollow, with gratitude for the Frost friendship we both enjoyed.”  Gift of Mary Maury McKeon.
RFA
42.2
1942b
Second printing (first trade printing, with “FIRST PRINTING” on the copyright page).  7 copies.
*Copy 1 is one of several copies still in the publisher’s stock ca. 1990; in dust jacket.  Gift of Henry Holt and Company.
*Copy 2 is inscribed by Frost to George F. Whicher (Class of 1910), 1942; with Whicher’s bookplate; in dust jacket.  Gift of the Estate of George F. Whicher.
*Copy 3 inscribed by Frost above the half-title: “Robert to Ethel and Otto [Manthey-Zorn] hereby summoned as witnesses to [half-title underlined by Frost]”; in dust jacket.  Purchased from Seven Gables Bookshop.
*Copy 4 is inscribed by Frost for Jack W. C. Hagstrom (Class of 1955), with the first stanza of “I Could Give All to Time”; in dust jacket; accompanied by a copy of the prospectus with the Holt address (removed and placed in file with call number: File RFA 42.2 1942 prospectus).  Gift of Jack W. C. Hagstrom.
*Copy 5 is from the library of E. Porter Dickinson; in dust jacket.  Gift of the Estate of E. Porter Dickinson.
*Copy 6 is from the library of Martha Overton Myers; in dust jacket.  Gift of Martha Overton Myers.
*Copy 7 is from the library of Margaret Olds Strahl.  Gift of Margaret Olds Strahl.
RFA
42.2
1942c
Second (?) printing (with “SECOND PRINTING” on the copyright page).  1 copy.
*Copy 1.  Inscribed: “To Marjorie from Sydney, May 22, 1942, Washington, D.C.”; also inscribed by Frost for Marjorie Greenbie with the full text of “The Secret Sits”; in dust jacket.  Gift of Mrs. Barrie B. Greenbie.
RFA
42.2
1942d
Third (?) printing (with “June, 1942” on the copyright page).  2 copies.
*Copy 1 is from the library of Anthony Scenna (Class of 1927); in dust jacket.  Gift of Anthony Scenna.
*Copy 2 was in the stock of the publisher ca. 1990; in dust jacket.  Gift of Henry Holt and Company.
RFA
42.2
1942e
Fourth printing (with “March, 1943” on the copyright page).  1 copy.
*Copy 1.  In the stock of the publisher ca. 1990; in dust jacket.  Gift of Henry Holt and Company.
RFA
42.2
1942f
Fifth printing (with “February, 1944” on the copyright page).  3 copies.
*Copy 1 was in the stock of the publisher ca. 1990; in dust jacket.  Gift of Henry Holt and Company.
*Copy 2.  Source unknown.
RFA
42.2
1942g
Sixth printing (with “June, 1959” on the copyright page, and a list of previous printings).  1 copy.
*Copy 1.  Purchased.

Second (English) edition.

RFA
42.2
1943
First printing.  2 copies.
*Copy 1 has the bookplate of George F. Whicher (Class of 1910); in dust jacket.  Gift of the Estate of George F. Whicher.
*Copy 2 is a review copy, with publisher’s typed (carbon) information slip inserted; inscribed by Frost for Earle Bernheimer on the front free endpaper: “To Earle [the following cut from a letter by Frost and pasted in:] Did I tell you Johnathan [sic] Cape had brought out A Witness Tree in England.  I have had no copy. [below that, written on the endpaper:] You seem to have found it. RF, Beverley Hills, March 26, 1947”; in a different ink, Frost has inserted an asterisk after his initials, and further down the same page has written “Robert Frost, Oct. 24, 1952” (perhaps for Harold J. Baily, Class of 1908, in whose collection the copy ended up); in dust jacket, in a protective case.  Gift of Mrs. Harold J. Baily.
RFA
42.2
1943a
First printing, proof copy (the pagination and some design features are different, and the copyright page is of a different setting).  1 copy.
*Copy 1.  From the library of Jack W. C. Hagstrom (Class of 1955).  Gift of Jack W. C. Hagstrom.
RFA
42.2
1943b
Second printing (with “First published May 1943. Second impression February 1944” on the copyright page).  1 copy.
*Copy 1.  From the library of Jack W. C. Hagstrom (Class of 1955).  Gift of Jack W. C. Hagstrom.