Dennis, Patrick: Auntie Mame
(researched by Sarah Wilkinson)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Patrick Dennis. Auntie Mame; An Irreverent Escapade. New York: Vanguard Press, 1955. Simultaneous publishings: The Copp Clark Company, Ltd., Toronto, Canada, 1955. Copyright statement: Patrick Dennis, 1955.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition was published in paper covered boards.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
144 leaves, pp. [8] [1-3] 4-17 [18] 19-38 [39] 40-61 [62] 63-90 [91] 92-120 [121] 122-150 [151] 152-177 [178] 179-209 [210] 211-235 [236] 237-269 [270] 271-280.
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
This edition is neither edited nor introduced.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
This edition contains no illustrations.
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?)
This is a well-printed and very readable book. The pages are 13.5 cm by 20.2 cm, with 2 cm margins; the type is 90R, with comfortable spacing. Each chapter begins on a fresh page, with a chapter number in the top corner and the text beginning half-way down the page. Centered in the top half of these chapter-heading pages is a bold text reading "AUNTIE MAME;" beneath it is a small flower-shaped decoration, followed by the chapter title.
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?)
This book is printed on even-textured, wove paper; all pages are of the same paper stock. The pages are slightly yellowed, especially at the edges of the pages. Aside from that, the paper is still in fine condition, with no tears or stains.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is non-woven, colored paper-board. Its design uses only three colors: black, white, and a medium reddish pink. The right half of the front cover is pink, with a drawing of a womanís arm and hand beneath the title. The arm sticks out from a fur cuff, wearing a black glove, a ring, and a series of bangle bracelets, and carrying a long cigarette holder. The bracelets, etc. are outlined in black and colored pink or white. The left half is black, as is the spine. On the spine, "Auntie" is written along the spine in pink, with "Mame" below it in white. "Dennis" then reads in white across the spine, and "Vanguard" in white across the bottom of the spine. The back is pink, except for about 8mm of black extending from the spine. The end papers are of a thick paper, which is now a yellowish white, but are themselves in otherwise good condition. However, the end paper at the back of the book has torn away from the rest of the pages. There is a dust jacket, with the same color blocking and drawing on the front, but with the addition of a title that spans the front cover in white, the subtitle written beneath it in pink, and the authorís name at the bottom in white. The spine is the same. On the back, in black is a series of "sparkling reviews for a sparkling book," by various publications. On the front inside flap there is a brief summary of the book; on the rear inside flap is a short bio of the author (see "other"). The dust jacket is a bit faded and yellowed, torn at the corners and worn along the edges, and is missing pieces at the top and bottom of the spine. Transcription of spine: AUNTIE | MAME | DENNIS | VANGUARD
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: [ on a blank, unframed page, with various spacing, type face, and type size] AUNTIE | MAME| An Irreverent Escapade | by PATRICK DENNIS | NEW YORK - VANGUARD PRESS, INC. Verso: [on a blank, unframed page] Copyright, (symbol), 1955, by Patrick Dennis | Published simultaneously in Canada by | the Copp Clark Company, Ltd., Toronto | No portion of the book may be reprinted in | any form without written permission of the | publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to | quote brief passages in connection with a review | for a newspaper or magazine. | Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 54-11512 | Designed by Betty Kormusis Crumley | Manufactured in the United States of America by | H. Wolff, New York, N.Y. | Thirty-first printing | This book is a work of fiction. No characters, except certain | renowned persons who are identified by their true names, | are fashioned after actual persons, living or dead, and any | resemblance between the characters in this book and actual | persons is wholly coincidental.
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
Some of the author's maunscripts are held at Yale, some at Boston University; I do not know if the Auntie Mame manuscript is among them.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
In this copy of the book, there is a label stuck on the inside front cover that has a drawing of two comedy/tragedy masks and reads "Ex Libris." I find this editionís dedication rather amusing: "To the worst manuscript typists in New York, V.V. and Mme. A." Of further note, looking up information under the authorís name, Patrick Dennis, I discovered that this name is a pseudonym for his real name, Edward Everett Tanner. Indeed, on the rear inside flap of this editionís dust jacket, there is a short biography of the author which reads: "Patrick Dennis, who wrote Auntie Mame, is also the author of several successful novels published during the past few years. He is married to a delightful young lady, and they have a son. Mr. Dennis, as you will discover upon reading Auntie Mame, has traveled far, has listened carefully, and has looked keenly. Youíll also find he has an amazing fund of knowledge and a giant-sized sense of humor. To those who are familiar with biographical notes, it will be apparent by now, from what is obviously missing here, that the authorís identity is being heavily cloaked. Just so. Patrick Dennis is not his real name, and, should you be curious, neither Patrick nor Dennis form any part of his true appellation. If youíd care to venture a guess as to Mr. Dennisí actual identity, the publisher would be delighted to hear from you. But, alas, the publisher wonít tell you, even if your guess is right. It is, after all, Mr. Dennisí cloak."
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
In 1957, Vanguard published a hard-cover edition of Auntie Mame, a stageplay by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, based on the novel by Patrick Dennis. It includes photographs from the Broadway production. (sources: Bibliofind online database)
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?
Through searches in Publishers' Weekly, I found information regarding printings, both in advertisements for the novel by Vanguard Press, and in comments by PW on the Bestsellers of the Week list. However, the latest printing of the first edition that I could find is in my own copy; it is listed as a "thirty-first printing" on the verso side of the title page. (sources: my copy of the novel)
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
(In 1956, Auntie Mame begins appearing in Book of the Month Club ads; however, I could not find further information about this edition of the novel.) 1956: Auntie Mame: an Irreverent Escapade. Popular Library edition, complete and unabridged. Popular Library. 1956: Auntie Mame. Pocket Books, paperback. (I could find no record of this edition anywhere, except as one listing in the Bibliofind online database. I have my suspicions that "Popular" was erroneously read and transcribed as "Pocket".) 1957: Auntie Mame: an Irreverent Escapade. Frederick Muller Ltd., London. 1959: Auntie Mame. Signet, mass market paperback. 1974: Mame. Futura Publications Limited. 1976: Auntie Mame. Trade Cloth. Amereon, Limited. 1990: Auntie Mame. Reprint, library binding. Buccaneer Books, Inc. 1991: Auntie Mame Genius the Joyous Season. Book-of-the-Month Club. 1992: Auntie Mame. Reprint, library binding. Buccaneer Books, Inc. 1994: Auntie Mame. Mass Market Paper. Ballantine Publishing Group. 1994: Auntie Mame: an Irreverent Escapade. Large Print edition. G.K. Hall. 1994, 1995: Auntie Mame: an Irreverent Escapade. Large Type edition, in library binding (í94) and in trade cloth (í95). Macmillan Library Reference. (sources: WorldCat online database; Books in Print online database; Bibliofind online database; Publishers' Weekly, Jan, 1955 - April, 1957; New York Times Book Review)
6 Last date in print?
May 2000. (source: Books in Print online database)
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
As of 1959, Auntie Mame had sold over 2,000,000 copies in the original, paperback, and translated editions. I could not find more recent figures. (sources: Current Biography, 1959)
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
This book was first sold by Vantage Press for $3.50; this edition spent 112 weeks on the bestseller list. Publishers' Weekly list sales figures for the novel almost weekly in its Bestsellers of the Week list. When PW printed an erroneous figure, Vanguard Press was quick to point it out. A correction appeared in PW on July 16, 1965, stating: "Vanguard points out that we gave too low a total for the sale of 'Auntie Mame' in our lists of bestsellers in the July 2 issue. Our missprint read "85, 000" copies. It should have been "185,000" copies, and by now the total sales figure is over 187,000 copies." Within the first few months of its place on the bestseller list, PW reports that Auntie Mame was selling greater than 5,000 a week. In the week of July 7, 1955, sales averaged 1,000 a day. High sales continued throughout 1955, selling about 3,000 copies each week; as of December 24, 1955, 142,000 copies had been sold. High sales continued throughout 1956, ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 a week, and were consistently high (4,000-5,000 a week) in the months following the opening of the Broadway play in October. As of December 3, 1956, about 258,000 total copies had been sold. In a December ad, Vanguard reported that copies "are selling out as fast as we can print." Sales continued to be several thousands per week in early 1957, but I could find no further grand total of the Vanguard edition. Beginning June 1, 1955, Vantage advertised a special offer to booksellers: buy 10 books, get 1 free; buy 25, get 3 free; buy 50, get 6 free; buy 75, get 9 free; buy 100, get 12 free, etc., etc. This offer was extended and extended into early 1956. In the fall of 1956, Vantage Press ran ads for Auntie mame and Patrick Dennis' latest novel, Guestward Ho!, together, and offered one free copy for each ten copies purchased of either, or one free copy of Auntie Mame for five of each of the two. These offers no doubt greatly increased sales. In October 1956, Popular Library began selling a paperback edition of Auntie Mame for $0.50. On November 12, 1956, PW reported that the Popular Library already had a third printing out, brining the reprint total to 1,500,000 copies, with 250,000 more covers being printed. Popular Library ads declared that Auntie Mame was "off to a record-breaking start," and apologized for being backlogged. (sources: Publishersí Weekly, Jan, 1955 - April, 1957; New York Times Book Review, Jan - Dec, 1955, August, 1956 - April, 1957)
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
In the January 21, 1956 issue of Publishersí Weekly, the following full-page, color ad was placed: The best way to celebrate | AUNTIE | MAMEíS | first birthday | is to help us cut the cake! | Weíre getting Mameís second | year off to a flying start by | renewing our special offer | Plus - $10,000 additional | advertising to keep Auntie Mame | Americaís #1 | Queen of Humor | Order now! Offer begins January 21| and ends February 18 This ad uses some of the same size and style of type faces as the book cover, uses the same colors (black, white, and medium reddish pink), and contains a similar illustration of a gloved arm with bangle bracelets. However, this hand protrudes from a birthday cake, and the top finger is lit like a candle. (sources: Publishersí Weekly, Jan, 1955 - April, 1957)
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
A210191000505183733.jpg
11 Other promotion
In the January 1, 1955 issue of Publishersí Weekly, the novel was promoted by in the "PW Buyers Forecast" by Alice Hackett. In the same issue, Vanguard Press advertises its Spring 1955 title list, "in sales and in sizesÖa list thatís bigger than ever." Auntie Mame, an Irreverent Escapade is listed as "already published," at the price of $3.50. It is listed again in Vanguardís Spring 1955 list, in a later issue of Publishersí Weekly. The May 7, 1955 issue of Publishersí Weekly states that "small ads feature this as a ëNo. 1 spring tonicí." At the June, 1955 ABA Convention, Auntie Mame was the main feature in the Vantage Press display. In the February 18, 1956 issue, Publishersí Weekly mentions upcoming ad campaigns by Vantage Press for the novel, including ads for Valentineís Day, Easter, and summer time, with appropriate seasonal themes, like the "birthday" ad described above. Such ads were used by Vanguard throughout Auntie Mame's time on the bestseller list, with the trickets on the bracelets changing with the season. These were placed in newspapers across the country. At Christmas time, the gloved hand was deorated with holly, with Christmas-type trinkets for bangle bracelets; in May of 1956, PW referred to such an ad, seen in the New York Times Book Review, when it listed Auntie Mame as having one of the "50 Outstanding Book Ads of 1955." In 1956, Vanguard's ads began referring to the Broadway play, starring Rosalind Russel, in its ads for the novel Auntie Mame, both before and after the play's appearance on the stage. Vanguard also began a combined ad campaign for Auntie Mame and Guestward Ho!. Vanguard ran ads of the two together, using the same type of print and design as for the Auntie Mame ads. In one, Mame is hailed as the "Queen of Broadway", and wears a crown around her wrist instead of bracelets, while Guestward Ho!, with its cowgirl-figure, is hailed as the "Queen of the Gold-Plated West." Popular Library began running ads in late 1956; one is a photograph of someone reading their edition and laughing, warning people that the novel will make them laugh so hard, people with think they are crazy. The ads generally refer to Auntie Mame's success in hardcover sales and on the bestseller lists, and refer to the Broadway play. Publishers' Weekly reported in November, 1956, that Popular had distributed 15,000 newsstand display posters upon publication, and had recently distributed 10,000 more in response to requests from "innumerable" dealers and distributors. (sources: Publishersí Weekly, Jan, 1955 - April, 1957; New York Times Book Review, Jan - Dec, 1955, August, 1956 - April, 1957)
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Audiovisual: 1958: Auntie Mame. Technicolor motion picture, starring Rosalind Russell. Based upon the novel by Patrick Dennis, and the play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Warner Brothers Pictures. (video reels) 1974: Mame. Remake of the 1958 motion picture; starring Lucille Ball. Warner Home Video, Warner Brothers. (video reels) 1982: Auntie Mame, a night at the movies, 1958. Re-released by Warner Home Video, New York, N.Y. (VHS videocassette) 1984: Auntie Mame, a night at the movies, 1958. Re-released by Warner Home Video, Burbank, Ca. (VHS and Beta videocassette) 1984: Mame. Re-release of the 1974 motion picture. Warner Home Video, Burbank, Ca. (VHS videocassette) 1990: Auntie Mame. Videodisc release of the 1958 motion picture. Widescreen, closed-captioning for the hearing impaired. Warner Home Video, Burbank, Ca. (LaserDisc) 1991: Mame. Re-release of the 1974 motion picture. Closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. Warner Home Video, Burbank, Ca. (VHS videocassette) 1991: Videodisc release of the 1991/1974 motion picture. Closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. (LaserDisc) 1998: Auntie Mame. Re-release of the 1958 motion picture (also re-released in widescreen version). Warner Home Video. (videocassette) Plays / Musical Scores: 1956: Auntie Mame; the Broadway production starring Rosalind Russel, ran from Oct. 3, 1956 - June 28, 1958 1958: Auntie Mame: screenplay, final edition. Warner Brothers. (book) 1958: Lawrence, Jerome. The complete text of Auntie Mame. Theatre Arts. (play/book) 1956-69 (?): Herman, Jerry. Auntie Mame/Mame. (Also) Lawrence, Jerome. Auntie Mame, a new play. Various manuscripts. Part of Lawrence and Lee Collection. (manuscripts) 1960: Lawrence, Jerome. Auntie Mame, a new play. Adapted from the novel by Patrick Dennis. Dramatists Play Service. (play/book) 1967: Herman, Jerry. Mame: a musical comedy; based on the novel by Patrick Dennis and the play "Auntie Mame" by Lawrence and Lee. E.H. Morris. (vocal and musical scores) 1986: Herman, Jerry. Angela Lansbury as Mame. Original Broadway cast. Columbia. (recording) 1995: Lawrence, Jerome. Selected plays of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee (including Auntie Mame). Ohio University Press. (play/book) Other: 1955: Something of Value (abridged versions of several novels, including Auntie Mame). Books Abridged, Inc. (book) 1957: "Auntie Mame" Playbill. Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway: Sept. 7, 1957. 1958: Hartman Theatre Company Scrapbook; covers 1957-58 season, including clippings etc, about the companyís production of "Auntie Mame" and other works. (mixed media) 1959: Clebanoff Strings; more songs from great films, including Auntie Mame. Mercury. (recording) 1973: 50 Years of Film; dialogue excerpts from original motion picture soundtracks including Auntie Mame. Warner Brothers. (recording) 1977: Tanner, Marion. [Marion Tanner says sheís never seen any of the fiction ("Auntie Mame") written about her by her nephew Patrick Dennis.] With Bill Toohey; broadcast on NPR. (recording) 1987: Bronislaw Kaper plays his famous film themes. Includes Auntie Mame. Delos International. (recording) 1991: Auntie Mame. Dennis, Patrick. Special Library edition, read by Donada Peters. Books on Tape. (audio cassette) 1993: Auntie Mame production cues. Major Records. (recording) 1997: DeZur, Mary A. Auntie Mameís Wedding Foo-Fooís; Favor Ideas for Weddings, Parties, and Holidays. (book) 1998: Jordan, Richard Tyler. But darling, Iím your Auntie Mame!: the amazing history of the worldís favorite aunt. Capra Press. (book) 1999: Mame, original Broadway cast recording, 1966. Re-released on CD by Columbia Broadway Masterworks. (recording) 1999: Frizzle, Norman. Midsummer madness with Auntie Mame. Pangea Multimedia. (book) (sources: WorldCat online database; Books in Print online database; Current Biography Yearbook, 1959; Bibliofind online database)
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
1956: Se opp for Mamie. Norwegian translation. Mortensens, Oslo. 1957: Tante Mame. Translated from English by Ursula von Weise. Sans Souci, Barmerlea. 1960: Lawrence, Jerome. Tia Mame. Spanish translation of the play adapted from the novel by Patrick Dennis. Coleccion Teatro, no. 255. 1966: La Zia Mame, irreverente tenativo biografico. Milano, Bompiani. (sources: WorldCat online database, Books in Print online database; English Catalogue of Books, 1956)
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
N/A
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
Dennis, Patrick. Around the world with Auntie Mame. Harcourt, Brace; New York: 1958. This sequel has also had many republications and additional printings, and is still in print today. (sources: WorldCat online database, Books in Print online database)
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Tanner, Edward Everett III pseudonyms Patrick Dennis and Virginia Rowans Edward Everett Tanner III was born in Evanston, Illinois on May 18, 1921, the son of stockbroker Edward Everett Tanner Jr. and Florence Thacker. He attended Evanston High School, several private schools in Evanston and Chicago - it is said that he was expelled from several of them (Look, Jan. 20, 1959. qtd. in Current Biog. 1959, 436), and the Chicago Institute of Art. During his school career, he began using the pseudonym "Patrick Dennis." "Pat" Tanner began work as a clerk in Stebbins Hardware Company, followed by Columbia Educational Books, Inc. He left this job to join the American Field Service in 1942. As an ambulance driver in World War II he served on the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Italy, and France, and served with the armed forces of seven different nations. He was wounded twice, "enjoyed" (he says) a bout of amnesia (Wakeman, 1405), grew a long beard styled after the French soldiers, and received two purple hearts (posthumously). Discharged in1945, Tanner returned to the States to settle in New York City, New York, where (except for a temporary residence in Mexico City from 1965 to 1970,) he spent the rest of his life. On December 30, 1948, he married Louise Stickney; his children are named Michael and Elizabeth. From 1945 to 1956, Tanner found work as an account executive at Franklins Spier Company, an advertising agency; as an ad manager for Creative Age Press; and as promotion director for Foreign Affairs magazine. From 1957 to 1971, he worked as a drama critic at New Republic, as well as contributing many articles and short stories to other magazines. Tanner has been a full-time writer since January 1, 1956 (Wakeman, 1405). Evidencing a "desire for privacy that is unusual in the publishing world" (Current Biog. 1959, 436), he began by working as a reviser, and as a ghostwriter on four novels. He continued his anonymity when he published his first book in 1953, the satire Oh, What a Wonderful Wedding, under the pseudonym Virginia Rowans. This novel received some criticisms, but was "welcomed for its 'fine feminine realism' [and] its fairly comprehensive hammering of 'the foibles of our competitive society'" (Wakeman. 1405). Tanner went on to write three more novels under the name Virginia Rowans: House Party (1954); The Loving Couple: His [and Her] Story (1956); and Love and Mrs. Sergeant (1961). In 1955, Tanner's first novel under the pseudonym Patrick Dennis was published. Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade in Biography was the result of several years of planning, ninety days of writing, and 5 years and 15 publishers-worth of plugging, until it was finally bought out by Vanguard Press. It is the supposed "memoir" of an orphaned Patrick Dennis, who is sent to live in New York with his madcap aunt. It details their escapades through the changing times of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s, and through the changing personae of his dramatic aunt. Some say that the story is indeed based on a member of Tanner's family (Wakeman, 1405), but Tanner himself has said, "I write in the first person, but it is all fictional. The public assumes that what seems fictional is fact; so the way for me to be inventive is to seem factual, but be fictional" (Dictionary of American Biog., 774). One fact that is certain is that Tanner lost his own anonymity with the success of this book. In July 1955, his real identity was unmasked by Time magazine, which "decided the world couldn't live another hour" without knowing who was behind the best-selling novel (Time. qtd. in Wakeman, 1405). Despite the unmasking, Tanner continued to use his pseudonyms, writing the above-named Rowans novels, and 11 more Patrick Dennis novels: Guestward, Ho! (1956); The Pink Hotel (1957); Around the World with Auntie Mame (1958); Little Me (1961); Genius (1962); First Lady (1964); The Joyous Season (1965); Tony (1966); How Firm a Foundation (1968); Paradise (1971); and Three-D (1972). In 1956, with Auntie Mame, The Loving Couple: His [and Her] Story, and Guestward, Ho! , Dennis became the only writer ever to have three bestsellers on the list at the same time. Auntie Mame was by far the most successful of Tanner's works. It led the best-seller lists for 112 weeks, and sold over 2 million copies. It was adapted into a Broadway play, "Auntie Mame," that ran from October 3, 1956 to June 28, 1958. This play was further adapted into a motion picture in 1958. Another adaptation, "Mame," a musical, also ran on Broadway and was made into a motion picture in 1973. The great popularity of this novel brought wealth and fame to its author (Dict. of Amer Biog., 774), as well as critical acclaim for his "zany characterization?[and] unflagging invention" (NY Times Book Review, 52). Edward Everett Tanner III died of cancer in his Park Avenue, New York, home on November5, 1976 at the age of 55. Some of his manuscripts are held at Yale University, others at Boston University. Sources: Biography and Genealogy Master Index (online) Contemporary Authors Database (online) Current Biography Yearbook, 1959 and 1977 Dictionary of American Biography, supplement 10 Dictionary of Literary Pseudonyms Gale Group Biographical Resource (online) New York Times Book Review, Nov. 5, 1961 Publishers' Weekly, Nov. 15, 1976 Wakeman, John, editor. World Authors, 1950-1970.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
In July, 1955, Time magazine reported, "Two thousand readers a week are putting their armchairs around Auntie Mame and finding her neither safe nor sane, merely sidesplitting. Auntie Mame is a screwball who has to be seen or read to be disbelieved" (Time, July 4, 1955). In an interview, author Patrick Dennis told Time, "this damn thing will probably sink next week" (Time). But readers and critics everywhere seemed to disagree, and the book spent 112 weeks on the bestseller lists. Kirkus declared, "these frenetic capers have some hilarious moments?[and] present a woman whose frivolity does not hide her fundamental soundness" (Kirkus). The humor and the sound character of Mame seem to have been the focal point for readers and critics alike. The novel was acclaimed as "highly articulate and sophisticated," and "highly entertaining for adult readers" by some journals (NYT, LJ). If reviewers did find fault with the novel or its writing, they were quick to couple a criticism with a complement; "some very funny moments and acid satire more than compensate for its determined cuteness' (Nation). The novel is written for adults, and at times contains a few swear words, and a little off-color humor, but nothing too graphic. However, it was apparently branded as "obscene" in Detroit, Michigan in October, 1956. The county prosecutor in Detroit found that it violated the Michigan statutes relating to printed matter, and informed the Detroit distributor that sale of the book would result in prosecution. This banning coincided with Popular Library's release of the novel and Popular quickly fought to overturn the ruling. Their counsel referred to the novel's previous success as a hardback, its continuing run (88 weeks) on the bestseller list, and its conversion into a successful Broadway play. Censorship was very common at this time, and many cases were being tried, and rulings made; Popular's counsel referred to a ruling made by Michigan's solicitor-general, in which it was stated that a book should be judged in its entirety. On November 11, the ban was rescinded. (PW) Reviewers declared Mame's character to be "too unclassifiable not to be real" (NY Times), but Dennis swore there was no real life Auntie, insisting that instead he "had a pair of very fast parents" (Look). Along with the interest in the pseudo-biographical novel came a strong public interest in its author. To Edward Everett Tanner III's initial dismay, Time magazine decided to unmask his pseudonym Patrick Dennis shortly after the book became successful. This was followed by many interviews and articles in several journals and entertainment magazines, detailing both the literary aspects of Tanner's works, and the splendor of his social life. After he had been exposed, Tanner did not seem to mind having reporters to the house, and having his picture in articles; he even posed with a costumed Rosalind Russell, the first Mame of the stage, in a collection of his own hats and helmets (Look). During Auntie Mame's stint on the bestseller lists, and throughout the next five years, several of Tanner's subsequent novels, under the pseudonyms of both Patrick Dennis and Virginia Rowans, were criticized in comparison to it. In 1957, referring to The Pink Hotel and House Party, Time magazine stated that Tanner's publishers were releasing the novels "on the assumption that the public is now hopelessly Tanner-Dennis-Rowans-addicted." The reviewer went on to say that the neither of the two novels "equals the highly carbonated humors of Auntie Mame, but each is bubbly enough to fill the summer air with burps of spasmodic mirth." The most obvious choice for critical comparison would be Auntie Mame's sequel, Around the World with Auntie Mame. This novel details an extended vacation that was alluded to but not described in the previous novel; taking her young nephew Patrick on a tour of Europe, the indefatigable character of Mame is still the same, and "the old gal runs true to form" (Spr Repub). Although the lively character of Mame herself was called "indestructible" (CST), the novel was often critiqued as being inferior in humor, story line, and writing quality to its predecessor; Martin Levin, of the Saturday Review wrote that "lacking in the sequel is the yeasty good humor which made the farce in Auntie Mame so delightfully palatable" (Sat R). Time magazine dryly notes that, "there is no important difference between Auntie Mame, which sold 1,500,000 copies, and Around the World. Biggest change: in the starting novel Mame Dennis gets married; in the sequel she just gets around" (Time, Aug. 25, 1958). Another reviewer found the "new adventures of Mame Dennis ?less crisp than the original" (SF Chronicle). However, Francis Burnette of the Library Journal predicted, "this will not, however, influence the initial demand. All fiction collections will want" (Library Journal, Sept. 1, 1958). The consensus seemed to be that Mame would help carry the other works, and that "Tanner has little to fear from Hollywood scouts or from critical sharpshooters;?since January 1955 the wackiest aunt since Charley's has been Tanner's fairy godmother" (Time, July 15, 1957). Sources: Chicago Sunday Tribune. Aug. 24,1958. Kirkus. Dec. 1, 1954. Library Journal. Jan. 1, 1955. Look. Jan. 20, 1959. Nation. May 28, 1955. New York Tribune Book Review. Feb. 6, 1955. Publishers' Weekly. Nov. 12; Nov. 26, 1956. San Francisco Chronicle. Aug. 21, 1958. Saturday Review. Aug. 23, 1958. Springfield Republican. Aug, 24, 1958. Time. July 4, 1955; July 15, 1957; Aug. 25, 1958.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
In July, 1955, Time magazine reported, "Two thousand readers a week are putting their armchairs around Auntie Mame and finding her neither safe nor sane, merely sidesplitting. Auntie Mame is a screwball who has to be seen or read to be disbelieved" (Time, July 4, 1955). In an interview, author Patrick Dennis told Time, "this damn thing will probably sink next week" (Time). But readers and critics everywhere seemed to disagree, and the book spent 112 weeks on the bestseller lists. Kirkus declared, "these frenetic capers have some hilarious moments?[and] present a woman whose frivolity does not hide her fundamental soundness" (Kirkus). The humor and the sound character of Mame seem to have been the focal point for readers and critics alike. The novel was acclaimed as "highly articulate and sophisticated," and "highly entertaining for adult readers" by some journals (NYT, LJ). If reviewers did find fault with the novel or its writing, they were quick to couple a criticism with a complement; "some very funny moments and acid satire more than compensate for its determined cuteness' (Nation). The novel is written for adults, and at times contains a few swear words, and a little off-color humor, but nothing too graphic. However, it was apparently branded as "obscene" in Detroit, Michigan in October, 1956. The county prosecutor in Detroit found that it violated the Michigan statutes relating to printed matter, and informed the Detroit distributor that sale of the book would result in prosecution. This banning coincided with Popular Library's release of the novel and Popular quickly fought to overturn the ruling. Their counsel referred to the novel's previous success as a hardback, its continuing run (88 weeks) on the bestseller list, and its conversion into a successful Broadway play. Censorship was very common at this time, and many cases were being tried, and rulings made; Popular's counsel referred to a ruling made by Michigan's solicitor-general, in which it was stated that a book should be judged in its entirety. On November 11, the ban was rescinded. (PW) Reviewers declared Mame's character to be "too unclassifiable not to be real" (NY Times), but Dennis swore there was no real life Auntie, insisting that instead he "had a pair of very fast parents" (Look). Along with the interest in the pseudo-biographical novel came a strong public interest in its author. To Edward Everett Tanner III's initial dismay, Time magazine decided to unmask his pseudonym Patrick Dennis shortly after the book became successful. This was followed by many interviews and articles in several journals and entertainment magazines, detailing both the literary aspects of Tanner's works, and the splendor of his social life. After he had been exposed, Tanner did not seem to mind having reporters to the house, and having his picture in articles; he even posed with a costumed Rosalind Russell, the first Mame of the stage, in a collection of his own hats and helmets (Look). During Auntie Mame's stint on the bestseller lists, and throughout the next five years, several of Tanner's subsequent novels, under the pseudonyms of both Patrick Dennis and Virginia Rowans, were criticized in comparison to it. In 1957, referring to The Pink Hotel and House Party, Time magazine stated that Tanner's publishers were releasing the novels "on the assumption that the public is now hopelessly Tanner-Dennis-Rowans-addicted." The reviewer went on to say that the neither of the two novels "equals the highly carbonated humors of Auntie Mame, but each is bubbly enough to fill the summer air with burps of spasmodic mirth." The most obvious choice for critical comparison would be Auntie Mame's sequel, Around the World with Auntie Mame. This novel details an extended vacation that was alluded to but not described in the previous novel; taking her young nephew Patrick on a tour of Europe, the indefatigable character of Mame is still the same, and "the old gal runs true to form" (Spr Repub). Although the lively character of Mame herself was called "indestructible" (CST), the novel was often critiqued as being inferior in humor, story line, and writing quality to its predecessor; Martin Levin, of the Saturday Review wrote that "lacking in the sequel is the yeasty good humor which made the farce in Auntie Mame so delightfully palatable" (Sat R). Time magazine dryly notes that, "there is no important difference between Auntie Mame, which sold 1,500,000 copies, and Around the World. Biggest change: in the starting novel Mame Dennis gets married; in the sequel she just gets around" (Time, Aug. 25, 1958). Another reviewer found the "new adventures of Mame Dennis ?less crisp than the original" (SF Chronicle). However, Francis Burnette of the Library Journal predicted, "this will not, however, influence the initial demand. All fiction collections will want" (Library Journal, Sept. 1, 1958). The consensus seemed to be that Mame would help carry the other works, and that "Tanner has little to fear from Hollywood scouts or from critical sharpshooters;?since January 1955 the wackiest aunt since Charley's has been Tanner's fairy godmother" (Time, July 15, 1957). Sources: Chicago Sunday Tribune. Aug. 24,1958. Kirkus. Dec. 1, 1954. Library Journal. Jan. 1, 1955. Look. Jan. 20, 1959. Nation. May 28, 1955. New York Tribune Book Review. Feb. 6, 1955. Publishers' Weekly. Nov. 12; Nov. 26, 1956. San Francisco Chronicle. Aug. 21, 1958. Saturday Review. Aug. 23, 1958. Springfield Republican. Aug, 24, 1958. Time. July 4, 1955; July 15, 1957; Aug. 25, 1958.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
Patrick Dennis' bestselling novel Auntie Mame was a huge success in the mid-1950s, selling over 2,000,000 copies and holding a place on the bestseller lists for 112 weeks. Many elements contributed to the novel's contemporary and still continuing success. First of all, Auntie Mame is a whacky spin-off of the popular "orphan" genre. Secondly, the novel brings together a fascination with different cultures and a taste of a uniquely American lifestyle, addressing popular issues of its own day through the lens of the changing past. Dennis uses both a child's and a cynic's perspective to describe and comment upon the goings-on of the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. His colorful characters are used to liven up the story as well as to satirize contemporary situations. Most importantly, this novel tells a story that begs to be converted into other forms of media. This novel teaches us that many different elements can combine to create an outstandingly popular bestseller. Auntie Mame is the tale of an recently orphaned child who is taken in by a relative he has never met before, a genre which has proven popular for well over a century, in well-known books like David Copperfield, Pollyanna, The Secret Garden, and Anne of Green Gables. However, the author adds quite a twist to the old tale, and this novel is very different from the traditional orphan stories. Written in the first person, the novel begins as Patrick Dennis is reading a story, told "about somebody whom a famous writer - [he] forget[s] which one - considers to be the Most Unforgettable Character he's ever met" (Auntie Mame, 4). The Unforgettable Character he reads about is described as: "a sweet little New England spinster who live[s] in a sweet little white clapboard house and opens her sweet little green door one morning expecting to find the Hartford Courant. Instead she [finds] a sweet little wicker basket, with a sweet little baby boy inside. The rest of the article [goes] on to tell how that Unforgettable Character took the baby in and raised it as her own" (Auntie Mame, 4). For Dennis, this description reminds him of his own upbringing, and he sets up the novel as a series of "certain parallels" between this Unforgettable Character and his own Auntie Mame, who raised him from the age of ten (Auntie Mame , 4). However, from the beginning Dennis states that nobody could "know what the word character meant unless he had met my Auntie Mame" (Auntie Mame , 4). Throughout the novel, Auntie Mame offers quite a contrast to this "New England spinster" (who reminds one especially of the character Aunt Polly, from the 1913 bestseller Pollyanna, although Aunt Polly's "sweetness" is debatable). One soon realizes that the only thing Auntie Mame really has in common with this Unforgettable Character (or grim old Aunt Polly) is her complete lack of experience with children. Each chapter of the novel begins with a sweet episode of the Unforgettable Character's life, which is quickly contrasted by the wild goings-on of Mame. When Patrick appears on Mame's doorstep, as a boy of ten, chaperoned by his nursemaid Norah, the two are little prepared for the unconventional welcome they are about to receive. Mame is in residence at the illustrious Beekman Place in New York City, and Patrick and Norah step into a vestibule decorated in an Asian style, with black walls, a scarlet door, and "a weird pagan god with two heads and eight arms sitting on a teakwood stand." A Japanese houseman opens the door, and declares that Mame "no want little boy today," but invites them into the foyer, painted bright orange and decorated with lanterns and screens, while he runs off giggling to fetch "Madame," who is "having affair now." Remembering the "Oriental fleshpots" of the movies, Patrick and Norah start to fear for their safety when "a regular Japanese doll of a woman," appears (Auntie Mame, 11-12). Dennis recalls that: "her hair was bobbed very short with straight bangs above her slanting brows; a long robe of embroidered golden silk floated out behind her?and jade and ivory bracelets clattered on her arms?An almost endless bamboo cigarette holder hung languidly from her bright red mouth. Somehow, she looked vaguely familiar" (Auntie Mame, 13) Mistaking Norah for a new cook, the woman declares that she can go right to work, although she didn't know Norah was "bringing a child as well?No matter," she quips, "he looks like a nice boy. If he misbehaves, we can always toss him in the river" (Auntie Mame, 13). Laughing, she sweeps out of the room, leaving Patrick and Norah to grow even more frightened as they catch glimpses of the guests and listen to (and misunderstand) the strange conversations going on at a rather roaring party of the late 1920s. Soon enough however, the geisha bustles back in and the misconception is cleared up, at which point she stops mid-sentence and announces dramatically, "but darling, I'm your Auntie Mame!" Even after such a harrowing welcome, Dennis recalls that as soon as Mame "threw her arms around [him] and kissed [him], [he] knew [he] was safe" (Auntie Mame, 13-15). This first scene is quite the antithesis of that of the Unforgettable Character, and Dennis establishes from this strange beginning that Auntie Mame is a very unorthodox woman, with a very unorthodox lifestyle. However, he also establishes that she is a caring woman, and a woman who can be blindly trusted by those she loves. In this way Dennis successfully provides the warm feeling one usually receives from the classic orphan story, but he does so in an unusually fun and exciting way. Auntie Mame also fits into the genre of childhood stories. It is told as the remembrances of an adult, as he looks back on the passage of his youth from a ten-year-old boy into an adolescent and an adult. Like other bestsellers such as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Peyton Place, and Portnoy's Complaint the story is narrated by an adult, but is often told through the experiences of a naïve child. Auntie Mame moves with a rather fast crowd, and exposes Patrick to a world that few adults, and certainly even fewer children, ever had privy to. Patrick often does not understand the implications of what is going on around him - at first he does not even understand the vocabulary used. In order to begin Patrick's education, Auntie Mame tells Patrick: "every time I say a word, or you hear a word, that you don't understand, you write it down and I'll tell you what it means. Then you memorize it and soon you'll have a decent vocabulary" (Auntie Mame, 22). Young Patrick learns to "circulate" at his Auntie Mame's big parties (where, despite prohibition, alcohol - "right off the boat" - is in abundance), and take notes on his vocabulary pad. He recalls that his lists featured "such random terms as: Bastille Day, Lesbian, Hotsy-Totsy Club, gang war, Id, daiquiri,?, relativity, free love, Oedipus complex,?, stinko,?, narcissistic, Biarritz, psychoneurotic, Shonberg, and nymphomaniac." Auntie Mame "explained all the words she thought [he] ought to know;" some other words she told him to "scratch out and forget about" (Auntie Mame, 24). Such remembrances of Dennis' childhood provide a window into the popular issues of the day (in this case, the late 1920s), and usually provide a good laugh as well. Little is said of the orphaned adoptee of the Unforgettable Character, but it is certain that Auntie Mame's nephew, is rather unlike that other famous orphan, Pollyanna. Patrick embodies little of Pollyanna's perpetually glad spirit; from quite a young age he displays a remarkable cynicism, directed at both his beloved Auntie Mame, as well as their common foes. Pollyanna inspired many readers of all ages in its own time, but in subsequent years, and especially today, older readers seem to feel rather irritated with Pollyanna's irrepressible optimism. Patrick's wry character provides a pleasing change from the overly glad Pollyanna-type orphan. His cynicism increases as he moves through adolescence and into adulthood, and indeed tempers his recounting of these tales. He uses this cynicism well as a writer, toning it down and refining it into a satirical comment upon many aspects of American society. Many of Dennis' characters are stereotypical, such as the Irish maid, the conservative broker and his toady son, the Southern gentleman who briefly becomes Mame's husband, and the three graceful New England sirens that Patrick courts as an adult. However, all of the characters are very cleverly described, and Dennis adds very clever details to spice up the stereotyped characters and also to create memorable new characters. Auntie Mane, is of course, his most colorful character. From the first, Mame is completely unconventional, in her beliefs, and in her character. Rather than occupying one central role, she is constantly recasting herself into new personae to fit the changing times and situations. After her stint as a Japanese geisha, Mame changes into a prim outfit to meet with Patrick's conservative trustee. When the depression hits hard, she stoically attempts to work at a number of various occupations, until she is whisked away by Beauregard to become the Southern Belle, (and thereafter enjoy a lasting wealth). She goes on to play the roles of a tweedy authoress, a midwife, and many more, always changing her duds and deeds to fit the task at hand. Much like the character of Auntie Mame in the novel, the novel itself was easily adaptable, and capable of changing its form. This series of zany anecdotes, occupying various settings of both time and place, and calling for a remarkable variety of costumes and accents, seems almost made for other media. In October of 1955, just 10 months after the book's publication, a Broadway adaptation, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee and starring Rosalind Russell, made its way onto the stage. It continued to run for more than a year after the novel left the bestseller lists (April, 1957), and ended in June of 1958. After this, the irrepressible story of "Auntie Mame" could not be contained for long; six months later, it was released by Warner Brothers as a major motion picture, again starring Rosalind Russell. A paperback edition of the novel had been released in 1956, with a new cover depicting a rather sly-looking Mame lounging on a bed with a grinning young man. (I am unsure if the man is supposed to be nephew Patrick, or perhaps a suitor - at any rate, this slightly tawdry cover undoubtedly helped to sell the novel to the masses, perhaps more so than the sophisticated gloved hand that was already associated with Mame's established bestsellerdom.) In 1958, a second Auntie Mame novel was published, Around the World with Auntie Mame, which, although not as successful as the original, was still hugely popular and became a bestseller as well. The play was later rewritten as a musical, "Mame," which was also highly successful, and was itself transformed into a motion picture. Each motion picture has been more recently remade, and put on videocassette, and the play and musical are still performed in many theaters. The novel and its sequel are still both in print. Every form of Auntie Mame's story helped to boost the popularity of the others. When the "Auntie Mame" hit Broadway, Vanguard boosted advertising for the novel, and began referring to Mame as the "Queen of Broadway" in its advertisements (Publishers' Weekly, Oct. 1, 1956). Undoubtedly, Vanguard's strong advertising campaign, coupled with the translation of Auntie Mame into other media, greatly increased its contemporary success as a bestseller. When it released its paperback edition, Popular Library's advertisements called attention to both the novel's continuing success as a bestselling hardcover, and also to its production as a Broadway play. Even after almost two years on the list, the combination of all of these forms kept Auntie Mame popular and sales high. The later successes of the musical and movie versions of "Auntie Mame," as well as its translation into other languages, have no doubt continued to support and augment the success of the story's other forms through the years. Auntie Mame's ready and successful conversion into various popular forms is one of the reasons that the novel, as well as its sequel, movies, and plays, are still popular today. Sources: Dennis, Patrick. Auntie Mame. Vanguard Press, NY: 1955. Publishers' Weekly, Oct. 1, 1956
Supplemental Material
another Vanguard ad, May 1956
Auntie Mame and Geustward Ho! combo-ad by Vanguard, April 1956
winner of the PW 50 best ads of 1955, as seen in Nov 1956 issue of NY Times Book Review
inner flaps of dust jacket
dust jacket of first edition
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