Garth Williams. Hard Cover. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1958. First Edition. Very Good / Dust Jacket Included.
Illustrated by Garth Williams. First edition, first printing. Publisher's black cloth back with pictorial paper-covered boards, pictorial dust jacket. Survey hand filled out by the author in ink, pasted to front pastedown, news stories about the book pasted to title pages. A very good copy with some light wear to extremities and a pencil note on front panel stating, "Author's letter inside"; in a price-clipped jacket with some chipping to the extremities and loss along spine, separated along spine. Written and illustrated by Garth Williams, this children's book follows the love story of two rabbits who are married in the moonlit woods. Published in 1958, the book was subject to a fierce censorship campaign, standing accused of being a work of integration propaganda in the Jim Crow South, as one of the rabbits is white and the other is black. The controversy of The Rabbits' Wedding is well-documented in this copy, as the previous owner of the book wrote to Garth Williams with a questionnaire, which was returned and adhered to the front pastedown. Williams' answers in the survey make it clear that he did not intend to make a statement about race when he wrote the book. His comments, humorous and at times rather cheeky, reveal his feelings of incredulity that a children's book could be banned as anti-segregationist propaganda. These handwritten responses give one a unique window into the author's thoughts on the book and its censorship. This copy also includes newspaper clippings highlighting the controversy sparked by the book within libraries in the south. Emily Wheelock Reed, Director of the Alabama Public Library Service Division, came under fire for refusing to pull the book from library shelves. Segregationist Alabama citizens and legislators fought Reed's plan, claiming the book was brainwashing children, likening it to the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Karl Marx. Under widespread pressure, Reed made the book accessible by request only. Later in 1959, Reed again angered segregationists by making a reading list that included Martin Luther King, Jr.'s book Stride Towards Freedom: The Montgomery Story. The presence of both the questionnaire by Williams and the contemporary newspaper articles paints a full picture of the struggles of late 1950s America.