Wilson, Sloan: The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
(researched by John McArdle)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
(First American Edition) Wilson, Sloan. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995. (First British Edition) Wilson, Sloan. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. London: Cassell and Co., 1956. Copyright: 1995 Sloan Wilson
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
First American Edition published in cloth binding.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
162 leaves, [12] pp. [2] 3-304 [8]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
There is an acknowledgment preceeding the actual story written by Sloan Wilson. In it, he expresses his thanks to many people who helped him in the writing of the novel. He especially thanks his wife for the many sacrifices she made during the two year period it took him to write the story.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations in this book.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Despite the age of the book, (44 years) it's overall appearence is "holding up" reasonably well. The pages measure approximately 21cm X 14cm. The actual type is in a bold Serif style, large enough to be comfortably read (measuring 90R). There are no ink smudges or incomplete letter printings. The lines are set far enough apart to make reading very comfortable. Generous margins also add to the pleasing appearence of each page. Margins measure 1.5cm on the top, 3.5cm on the bottom, and 2.5cm on the sides. The edges of the cover and edges of the actual pages show the most wear and tear as they are all either bent or frayed. Overall, the inside of the book has "held up" quite well over the years. There are a few marks on the first and last two pages of the book but otherwise, the pages and insides have very few defects. The outside cover and edges of the pages is where one can see the most wear and tear. Water marks, fraying of cloth, and one rip in the binding convey the feeling that this book has been well used over the years.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The most noticable aspect of the woven paper used in this printing of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit is the yellowing of the pages. After 44 years of "life", one can see how greatly the paper has aged, especially on the edges where constant exposure to light has turned the formally white pages to a mellow goldish tint. When one bends a page to mark his place, that mark appears as a crack in the paper which can not be pressed out as one can do to newer books. All the page corners are rounded and most of the edges have odd bends and curves in them when viewed from the side. The pages are obviously not holding tightly to the binding as there is no uniformity to the page edges if one were to run his finger along the side of the book. The pages are uniform along the top and bottom but not along the sides. The front and back pages both appear to have a water stain on them but the stain has not seeped through to any other page. The woven pages and texture they still retain a soft feeling to each page and add to the pleasure of reading the novel.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding and cover of this book consists of two different materials. The harder, cardboard cover has a crocodile grain to it and is covered in a medium gray cloth. On the cover, we find the only picture in the book. This picture is an imprint of a man, who, we are to guess, is wearing a "gray flannel suit". He wears a hat and his hands are clasped behind his back. He seems to be looking off into the distance with his chin slightly raised. There is no indication of who created this imprint. Meanwhile, the binding consists of a distinct calico-texture cloth, which is non-embossed. The binding has a reddish hue with a medium lightness of color. There is one, large tear at the top of the binding which exposes the paste and cloth underneath. This exposed area allows us to view the actual spine of the book cover. On the book's spine are written the words "Sloan Wilson, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit". It is interesting to note that the publisher's name does not appear or, if it did, it has faded away as the word "Sloan" almost has. This writing is in a Serif Gilt.
12 Transcription of title page
recto: SLOAN WILSON / The Man / in the / Gray Flannel Suit/ SIMON AND SCHUSTER / 1955 verso: ALL RIGHTS RESERVED / INCLUDING THE RIGHT OF REPRODUCTION / IN WHOLE OR IN ANY FORM / COPYRIGHT, c, 1955, BY SLOAN WILSON / PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER, INC. / ROCKEFELLER CENTER, 630 FIFTH AVENUE / NEW YORK 20, N.Y. / N.V. / FOURTH PRINTING / LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NUMBER: 54-9811 / MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / BY H. WOLFF BOOK MFG. CO., INC., NEW YORK, N.Y.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Information not available at this time.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
Sloan Wilson dedicates this book on the seventh of the unnumbered pages at the beginning of the book. The dedication reads: This book is dedicated by my wife and me / to her father, / Carl E. Pickhardt On the page immediatley following the end of the story, there is an "About the Author" page. This is a 3 paragraph description of Sloan Wilson's life and is unsigned. We can only guess that the publisher wrote this account. This description of Wilson's life includes quotes by him. He, once again, expresses his love and appreciation for his wife. The passage also mentions other books Wilson has written.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
Simon and Schuster released two editions of this book. The first edition was released in 1955 and was 276 pages long and was formated to 22cm. The other edition of this book was also released in 1955 and was formated to 22 cm however, this edition was 304 pages long. Source: World Cat
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
It can be deduced from "Publishers Weekly" statistics that The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit was reprinted up to 4 times in 1955 alone. The fourth printing of the book was celebrated with a new $25,000 ad campaign by Simon and Schuster and included about 40,000 copies printed. The most recent reprint of the original edition was produced in 1979 when R. Bentley reprinted the 304 page version of the book. Sources: World Cat Publishers Weekly
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit has been published by several other companies in many different countries. American Publishers Simon and Schulster 1955 - New York; 276 pages. 22cm $3.50 1955 - New York; 304 pages. 22cm Pocket Books 1955, 1956, 1964- New York; 287 pages. 17cm Amereon House 1955 - Mattituck, New York; 276 pages. 23 cm Arbor House 1955, 1983 - New York; 276 pages. 21cm. Dell 1966 - New York; 288 pages. 18cm. R. Bentley 1979 - Cambridge, MA; 304 pages. 22cm. Thorndike Press 1981, 1985 - Thordike, ME; 560 pages. 22cm (large print edition) Foreign Publishers R. Laffont 1956 - Paris, France; 346 pages. Wolfgang Kruger Verlag 1956, 1958 - Hamburg, Germany; 353 pages. Otokar Kersovani 1959 - Rijeka, Croatia; 371 pages. 21 cm. A. Mondadori 1972 - Milano, Italy; 347 pages. 19cm. Bruguera 1973, 1980 - Barcelona, Spain; 443 pages. 18cm. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag 1982 - Frankfurt, Germany; 304 pages. 18cm.
6 Last date in print?
1985 was the last date a new editon of this book appeared. A reprint of an old edition was printed by Thorndike Press in 1991.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
A total of 269,200 copies of this book were sold as of 1965. This includes 139,000 hardback copies and 129,000 paperback copies. By the end of 1955 alone just under 100,000 copies of this book were sold. Source: 70 Years of Best Sellers Publishers Weekly History of Book Publishing the United States
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
No more recent sales figure could be found on this novel.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
This advertisement was found in the first week of April edition of "Publisher's Weekly" in 1955. LITERARY GUIDE SELECTION FOR AUGUST THE MAN IN THE GRAY FLANNEL SUIT a novel by Sloan Wilson The title of Wilson's brilliant first novel may well become part of the language. It stands for the young executive of the 1950's. He went to war. He killed men. He came back to the suburban house, the competitive office, marriage, and fatherhood. Every reader who changed from Olive Drab to Gray Flannel, and wonders whether the new uniform provides as secure a life as the old, will experience the shock of self-recognition. The novel is adult and heartening. Tom Rath and his wife are a pleasure to know. coming July 18th. $3.50 According to "Publisher's Weekly", in 1955 Simon and Schuster ran numerous ads for this book in major newspapers including full page ads in the New York Times. More contemporary advertisements for this book can be found on a number of online websites including Amazon.com.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
An article appearing in the first week of November 1955 edition of "Publisher's Weekly" gives an important insight to a major advertising campaign for The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. This article discusses how the gray flannel suit became a fashion craze due to the popularity of the novel. The silhouette figure of a man appearing in such a suit became a very popular and recognizable symbol. Clothing stores began to use the book in their store windows to advertise new styles of the gray flannel suit. Simon and Schuster began issuing life size cardboard cutouts of the silhouetted figure to many major clothing stores and this became one of the books major advertising campaigns.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Film: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. CBS/Fox Video. 1992. Audiovisual (2 12in videodiscs) 152 minutes. Starring: Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, and Fredric March
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
This book has a number of different translations including: Croatian Otokar Kersovani - 1959 - Rijeka; 371 pages. 21 cm. Italian A. Mondadori - 1972 - Milano, Italy; 347 pages. 19cm. Spanish Bruguera - 1973, 1980 - Barcelona, Spain; 443 pages. 18cm. German Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag - 1982 - Frankfurt, Germany; 304 pages. 18cm.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
This book was not printed in serialization.
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
This book does have a sequel entitled The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit II it was printed by Paper Jacks Markham, Ont. 1985.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Sloan Wilson was born to Ruth and Albert Wilson on May 8, 1920 in Norwalk, Connecticut. Albert was a professor at the school of journalism at New York University and spent much of his free time writing poetry. During his youth, Sloan received numerous types of education including lessons from "small Country Day schools, boarding schools, and tutors." He moved from Connecticut to Florida early on and did a lot of traveling while he matured into adulthood. Sloan attended Harvard University beginning in 1938. While there joined the Naval Reserve Unit and he met his future wife Elise Pickhardt. In 1940, Albert Wilson died of a heart condition and Sloan found comfort in Elise during this time. Their romance blossomed and they were married shortly before Sloan joined the Coast Guard when America entered World War II. Wilson's war experience had a great effect on his later writings. By the time he was 23 Wilson commanded a ship of his own and patrolled waters from Sydney to Greenland. After the war, Wilson re-enrolled at Harvard and went on to receive a bachelor's degree. After college, Wilson took his father's advice and began his writing career by taking a job with a newspaper. He began writing with the local newspaper in Providence, Rhode Island, with The Providence Journal. Wilson's writing career began to become successful shortly thereafter. He was soon writing short stories for The New Yorker and other publications. He remained obscure, however, until he published The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit in 1955 with Simon and Schulster publishing company. In this book, he incorporated many of his own experiences as a war veteran and in the job world of the early 1950's. This novel quickly became a bestseller and Wilson found himself in the national spotlight. His book touched millions of working class Americans and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit became a symbol of an entire generation. Wilson's popularity helped him publish other books including, A Summer Place, A Sense of Values, and Janus Island. However, none of his other books was ever as famous as The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Wilson became an English instructor at the University of Buffalo in the late 1950's. Shortly after the publishing of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Wilson divorced his wife Elise (who gave his best-selling book its name) and quickly married a young Betty Stephens. Wilson had four Children from his first marriage; Lisa, Rebecca, David, and Jessica. He now has three grandchildren; Benjamin, Joseph, and Eli. Sources -"What Shall We Wear to this Party: The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit 20 Years Before and After" -Biography Index -Dictionary of American Biography -Current Biography
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
An ability to relate to the character and a sense of realism was the overwhelming response of readers and reviewers to The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit when it first saw bookstore shelves in 1955. Most reviews in 1955 saw this story as a true representation of what life was like for the "every-man" of the 50's generation. Repeatedly, reviewers see Tom Rath as someone they all know, a true man of the day. As one reviewer in the July 21, 1955 issue of the Christian Science Monitor stated, the "dialog could have been piped from any of thousands of offices or living rooms in (America)?.his audience should be extensive, since Tom Raths are widespread in today's society". One bookstore owner, in St. Paul Minnesota, went on to say, "I felt as if I knew the characters as well as my next door neighbors or even better." Indeed, this book became a symbol for the middle class, middle income, post-World War II working man. Most professional critics did not rave about this being a run away hit. However, more often, called it a "thoughtful, searching novel" where Sloan Wilson tries to convey "more effect than excitement." Mainstream critics did not predict that the novel would be an instant, runaway bestseller. More often, private reviews by local book merchants were the source of extreme optimism for the success of the book. One review, contained in an ad for the book in Collier's Magazine in 1955, by Carl Kroch of Kroch's and Brentano's Inc., a local book chain in Chicago, showed this optimism; "In my opinion, it is the most salable novel of the year and I believe it will be extremely successful." A few mainstream reviewers found fault in this novel. When reviewers did not like the book, it was because they felt Sloan Wilson had played up the universality of his characters too much. In a July 18, 1955 review of the book, one critic felt Wilson had taken this image too far saying, "Unfortunately, too much of the novel verges on upper-middle-class soap opera baited with tune-in-tomorrow-for-the-next-upsetting-episode slickness." Another New York Times critic said in a July 17, 1955 review, that the story is "not easily believable in places." Professional literary critics of the day did not predict the extreme success of this novel outright. Most saw the book as a delightful story but not a "must read". Indeed, some professionals even characterized the story as a bit forced and even "cheesy". Smaller, local bookstore owners were the ones who raved about this book and predicted, accurately, its overwhelming success. Sources: -Book Review Digest -Periodical Lirerature (March 1955 - February 1957) Articles In: -Colliers (July/August 1955) -Time (July 1955) -Saturday Review (July 1955) -New Yorker (August 1955) -Christian Science Monitor (July 1955) -The Booklist (July 1955) -Chicago Sunday Tribune (July 1955) -New York Herald Tribune (July 1955) -New York Times (July 1955) -San Francisco Chronical (July 1955)
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
An ability to relate to the character and a sense of realism was the overwhelming response of readers and reviewers to The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit when it first saw bookstore shelves in 1955. Most reviews in 1955 saw this story as a true representation of what life was like for the "every-man" of the 50's generation. Repeatedly, reviewers see Tom Rath as someone they all know, a true man of the day. As one reviewer in the July 21, 1955 issue of the Christian Science Monitor stated, the "dialog could have been piped from any of thousands of offices or living rooms in (America)?.his audience should be extensive, since Tom Raths are widespread in today's society". One bookstore owner, in St. Paul Minnesota, went on to say, "I felt as if I knew the characters as well as my next door neighbors or even better." Indeed, this book became a symbol for the middle class, middle income, post-World War II working man. Most professional critics did not rave about this being a run away hit. However, more often, called it a "thoughtful, searching novel" where Sloan Wilson tries to convey "more effect than excitement." Mainstream critics did not predict that the novel would be an instant, runaway bestseller. More often, private reviews by local book merchants were the source of extreme optimism for the success of the book. One review, contained in an ad for the book in Collier's Magazine in 1955, by Carl Kroch of Kroch's and Brentano's Inc., a local book chain in Chicago, showed this optimism; "In my opinion, it is the most salable novel of the year and I believe it will be extremely successful." A few mainstream reviewers found fault in this novel. When reviewers did not like the book, it was because they felt Sloan Wilson had played up the universality of his characters too much. In a July 18, 1955 review of the book, one critic felt Wilson had taken this image too far saying, "Unfortunately, too much of the novel verges on upper-middle-class soap opera baited with tune-in-tomorrow-for-the-next-upsetting-episode slickness." Another New York Times critic said in a July 17, 1955 review, that the story is "not easily believable in places." Professional literary critics of the day did not predict the extreme success of this novel outright. Most saw the book as a delightful story but not a "must read". Indeed, some professionals even characterized the story as a bit forced and even "cheesy". Smaller, local bookstore owners were the ones who raved about this book and predicted, accurately, its overwhelming success. Sources: -Book Review Digest -Periodical Lirerature (March 1955 - February 1957) Articles In: -Colliers (July/August 1955) -Time (July 1955) -Saturday Review (July 1955) -New Yorker (August 1955) -Christian Science Monitor (July 1955) -The Booklist (July 1955) -Chicago Sunday Tribune (July 1955) -New York Herald Tribune (July 1955) -New York Times (July 1955) -San Francisco Chronical (July 1955)
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, by Sloan Wilson, was a best selling novel for over half a year after its publication in 1955. There has been munch speculation as to why this novel became so popular. Many critics and readers agree that the most important reason this book became successful was its ability to relate to the everyday working man. With the debut of this novel, Tom Rath became a symbol of the middle class American almost overnight. Many factors, besides being regarded as a novel that "embodies Fifties America", helped make this book a success. They include the way in which Sloan Wilson was portrayed to the American public and the promotional tie-ins of the book to other public industries. However, by becoming a novel that represented an era, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit became a piece of history and not a novel that has continued life. This book is not a timeless novel; many of the issues and ideas it discusses have become antiquated. This book was enormously popular in the time period in which it was written for many reasons. Yet this is not a novel that still reaps popularity and notoriety today. Tom Rath is no one special. He is an ordinary man doing ordinary things in an ordinary time. The 1950's were a time when the American public was trying to return to a normal lifestyle after World War II. Hundreds of thousands of American men who fought in the war and the millions more civilians, who had felt its drastic effects on the home front, were trying to readjust to peacetime lifestyles. Tom Rath had fought with a paratroop unit in the European and Japanese Theaters during the war. Like so many other men of that generation, he had bled, killed, and witnessed horrors beyond imagination; and like so many veterans who read this book, he was haunted by what he had witnessed. Tom and his wife Betty were a typical newly wed couple of the World War II generation. Readers could relate to Tom and Betty's war correspondence, their wartime sacrifices, and the necessity of having to grow up too quickly. Tom and Betty are parents of the "baby-boomer" generation. They deal with such everyday occurrences as chicken pox, family budgets, and neighborhood cocktail parties. The Raths live in a normal house in a typical suburban community with commen family problems. Indeed, Tom Rath is no one special. Nevertheless, this was the greatness of Tom's character. In the 1950's, he was an "every man" to whome the common person could relate. Critics and readers alike, attributed the novels success to it's ability to be, as one reader put it, "a wonderful reading experience about everyday, ordinary people, with human problems. I know people like these and probably am so myself." The book's publisher, Simon and Shuster, created an entire advertising campaign around this feeling of commonality with Wilson's characters. Tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads for this novel in all the major publishing magazines and even included a double, full page ad in The New York Times. The silhouette of an unspecified Simon and Shuster executive dressed in a gray flannel suit with his hands clasped behind his back, became a very recognizable symbol of this book that appeared everywhere books were sold. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit was not a thrilling, action packed novel. It became a bestseller because so many people could personally relate to Tom Rath's very human problems. By donning his gray flannel suit in the morning and catching the 7:35 AM train for work, Tom Rath became a character that shared many of the same struggles that working class America had to face in their own lives. He is a hero with all the faults and worldly troubles that befell the working man of the 1950's. This book did not always receive the highest reviews when first published. An important observation to note is that when critics first reviewed this book, there was a distinct difference in the way large newspapers and magazines described the novel and the way local bookstore owners and common readers described the novel. Local bookstore owners and common readers seemed much more able to relate to the story. Their reviews usually have only good things to say about the book. Often these reviews made mentioning of "knowing a Tom Rath my life". Large newspaper and magazines often did not review the book as favorably. Time magazine called the story "not easily believable." Another major reviewer called the novel "bland". Apparently, the audience for whom the book was written - middle class Americans - best received this novel and it was these masses that made the novel successful. Tom's heroic character is not a timeless one. The reason The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit is not still topping book sales charts today is because it does not relate to the general public of the 1990's as it did in the 1950's. This book was supposed to be a very modern novel. It described current foreign affairs and national politics of the day. Communism, suburban housing expansion, and the return of veterans to the workplace were all important contemporary issues in the 1950's. Today these issues are outdated. The book is too new to be considered a classic and society has changed too much for people to be able to relate to the book as they once did. One major difference is that today's business world has gone through a drastic change. White males are no longer the sole business leaders of the world. Today, women and minorities might even take offense to the way that they were represented in Sloan Wilson's novel. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit portrays women in the workplace in only secretarial roles. In the novel, Mr. Hopkins, Tom's boss, employs two secretaries and it is implied that one is employed for her looks while the other is employed for her abilities. In today's world where women executives are not an uncommon sight, this book seems very out dated. The book shows almost no minority character representation. In, fact minorities are mentioned only two times. One instance is when Tom has a flashback to the war and he remembers a Black infantry platoon coming ashore after one especially hard landing. Not only does Wilson refer to the Black sergeant as a "Negro", but this scene also hinted at some of the prejudice that was a part of the United States military during World War II. It illustrated how Black soldiers were often kept out of front line combat and relegated to auxiliary and support roles in important military operations. The only other time minorities are mentioned in the novel is when Hopkins is trying to form an "Exploratory Committee" for his mental health project. He wants Tom to include "a Catholic?a Jew?.a Negro" in his committee. Wilson's terminology and his depiction of minority roles in the work place make this novel out of date in today's multicultural and politically correct society. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit is also out of date in its depiction of family life and family roles. Today's women, who make up a large percentage of those buying books and making books bestsellers, may dislike the typical subservient housewife portrayal of Betty in the novel. Indeed, this book is not as appealing to today's audiences as it was to the readers of the 1950's. Sloan Wilson wanted to be considered by his readership as a common man when he wrote this novel. When this novel was first published in 1955, it included an "Acknowledgments" and an "About the Author" page. Both of these passages seem to portray Wilson as just a simple working man, a normal husband and father. The "About the Author" page tells how Wilson wrote The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit on weekends while his wife did his chores around the house. Wilson is shown as a working man with a dream to write a book. Simon and Shuster most likely wanted his public to see Wilson in this light. They wanted the working man to feel that this was a book by one of thei own, by a person who knows how they feel. Twenty years later, Wilson was still trying to present himself as a common man to his readers. At the end of his autobiographical novel, What Shall We Wear to This Party?, published in 1976, Wilson offers simple advice about surviving lifes daily struggles. He presents himself as a father and remarried husband trying to discover simple pleasures in life. Indeed Simon and Schuster and Sloan Wilson were looking to present "the novel about the common man" as being written by one of the common men. Another reason The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit became a best seller might have been that it seems to fit the model of the type of story that became best sellers in the mid 1950. Like Herman Wouk's Marjorie Morningstar (best seller in 1955) and Grace Metalious' Peyton Place (best seller 1956), this book is a social commentary on the growing trend towards uniformity. This seemed to be a popular subject and topic that sold books in the mid 1950's. It is interesting to note that this subject is handled very differently in these different bestsellers. While Peyton Place depicts characters rebelling against society and refusing to change, Marjorie Morningstar shows a character rebelling against society and in the end giving in and accepting social uniformity. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit falls somewhere in between these two different story lines. Tom realizes his place in the world, attempts to change, and finds a happy medium in which he can live. It can thus be inferred that one quality that made a book a bestseller in the mid 1950's is that it was a social commentary. The public wanted to read about the writer's thoughts on society. They became more accepting of many varying viewpoints. Major promotional tie-ins to other public industries are another reason this book topped the best seller's charts for so long. Foremost in this aspect was the book's film debut in 1956. The movie version of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, appearing so soon after the book's release, rejuvenated public interest in the novel and helped keep the book's sales figures soaring in that year. Also, the casting of notable Hollywood stars, such as Jennifer Jones and Gregory Peck, made this a hit movie on it's own. The clothing industry was another public industry that's efforts heightened sales of this book. Major retailers across the United States and in Canada saw the publishing of this book as an excellent opportunity for tie-in promotions to push gray flannel suit sales. Trademark silhouette cardboard cutouts soon hit department store windows after this book hit bookstore shelves in 1955. Copies of the book began appearing in such major department store display cases as Wallach's and Muse's Clothing Store of Atlanta. The book soon became not only a literary and film hit but, a fashion craze as well. One report in a 1955 article of Publishers Weekly mentioned: "The ladies were not ignored either. Peck and Peck in New York recently had two attractive windows of clothes in one of its Fifth Avenue shops, built around a blow-up jacket picture, with a note that The woman (and the Junior) in the gray flannel suit complements the man in the gray flannel suit." The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit makes connections with a number of different industries. This connection of characters with society's members spread its popularity and helped establish it as a finacial and critical success. To become a bestseller, a book needs to be more than just a great literary work. Numerous different factors need to work together to make a book achieve this level of success. Multi-faceted advertising campaigns, positive perceptions of the author, and conformity with other best selling novels of the time, are some of the factors that contributed to the success of Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. In Tom Rath, Sloan Wilson had not only a great book, but also a great phenomenon. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit took on a life outside its bookbinding and stirred the masses of an entire decade. However, in focusing so much on relating to one decade, Wilson's novel does not have staying power in today's society. Sources Consulted: -What Shall We Wear to This Party? -Publishers Weekly (1955-56) -Time (July 1955) -The Booklist (July 1955)
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