Heyward, DuBose: Mamba's Daughters
(researched by Elena Unschuld)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Du Bose Heyward. Mamba's Daughters A Novel of Charleston. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1929. Copyright statements: 1928 by The Crowell Publishing Co. 1929 by Du Bose Heyward 1995 by University of South Carolina Press
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The first edition was published as a hardcover, bound in trading cloth.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
163 leaves, pp. [10]1- 39 [3] 43- 112 [2] 115- 169 [3] 173- 268 [2] 271- 311 [5]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
There is a brief, half-page author’s note. In this note he writes that although the names of locations and streets are all real, his “work is purely imaginative and is concerned only with certain social and spiritual values existing in Charleston and its environs.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
There are no illustrations within the text itself, the only illustrations are on the dust jacket and on the two inside covers. The illustrations on the two inside covers span onto the first flyleaves of the book and are duplicate illustrations. The illustrations are in shades of green and brown, depicting a large house, perhaps a mansion, and a couple kissing at the gate. The dust jacket illustration seems to be a depiction of a Charleston street filled with people. I was unable to find the name of the artist.
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?)
I am not exactly sure of the name of the font, but it is a serif font and looks like Times New Roman font. In my opinion, the type and spacing makes the book itself very conducive to reading. The size type is 88R. The pages measure 19.5 cm by 13.5 cm.
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 pages seem to have held up very well over time, aside from the discoloration (the pages have turned from white to the typical old book off-white brownish color). The pages are smooth and deckle edged. Based on Christopher Biermann’s Handbook of Pulping and Papermaking, the paper in this book is coated and wood-free.
11 Description of binding(s)
There are no laid in features in the book. There is a dust jacket on the book, (described above). On the upper spine of the book there is a rectangle of white paper, now off-white paper, with the title and author printed on in green ink. Also, as mentioned above, there are illustrations pasted on the blocked binding, and flyleaves. The illustrations are printed on white paper. The binding of this book is of light green cloth.
12 Transcription of title page
Recto: Mamba’s Daughters/ by/ Du Bose Heyward/ 1929/ Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc./ Garden City, New York Verso: Copyright, 1929/ By Du Bose Heyward/ All Rights Reserved./ Printed in the United States at/ The Country Life Press/ Garden City, N.Y./ First Edition
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
I could not find where the manuscript is held.
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The inside folded parts of the dust jacked give brief summaries of some of the main characters in the novel: Mamba, Hagar, Lissa, Mrs. Wentworth, Saint Wentworth, and Valerie. There is also a list of other books written by Du Bose Heyward and a short description of the novel itself that begins: “Mamba’s Daughters is a stirring novel of the black people and white people of romantic Charleston…” On the front side of the second leaf of my copy there is an inscription written in pencil, in large, flourishing cursive writing that reads: “Bon Voyage/ & Much Love from Tillie Capron”. Given the inscription of “Bon Voyage”, one would suppose that this copy of Mamba’s Daughters was given as a gift before someone took off on some sort of travel adventure. The inscription as well as the short description of the novel gives the impression that the subject and goings on of this novel, whether purposefully or not, is a sort of exhibition. The novel is described as “stirring”, as if the happenings “of the black people and the white people” were an exhibition of the exotic happenings. Although Du Bose Heyward, in his author’s note, mentions how there are real names and locations included, perhaps, as an attempt to lie the foundations of his novel on reality, the physical and initial appearance of the book only “stress[es] the fact that the work is purely imaginative”. The dust jacket, with its busy, exciting illustration and description and the inscription frame make this book seem like a ticket- a ticket to be tourist, rather than a participant, in a colorful, exciting, unknown, “romantic” land called Charleston.
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
N/A However, on WorldCat, I counted 9 different editions and printings.
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?
N/A There were multiple printings, but unsure of the exact number
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
(The Crowell Publishing Co. in 1928)? Doubleday Doran in 1929 Literary Guild in 1929 Country Life Press in 1929 University of South Carolina Press in 1995 Grosset & Dunlap in 1929 Norman S.Berg Publishers in 1975 William Heinemann Publishers in 1929 (in London) Grosset & Dunlap by arrangement with Doubleday, Doran in 1933 Kessinger Publishing in 2004 Internet Archive 2012
6 Last date in print?
Kessinger Publishing’s edition of Mamba’s Daughters, first published in 2004 is still in print.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
Could not find any numbers
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Could not find any numbers
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
Play called Mamba’s Daughters published in 1939 and written by Dorothy and DuBose Heyward. The star of the show was Ethel Waters, and her performance in the dramatic production of Mamba’s Daughters she was the first African American woman actor to have a leading role on Broadway.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
Translated to French: Mamba et ses filles Publisher: Paris: Librarie Stock, 1932
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
N/A
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
The acclaimed author of Mamba’s Daughters was born Eugene Dubose Heyward on August 31st, 1885 (Hart) in Charleston, SC (American National Biography) and died June 16th in Tryon, NC (Encyclopedia Britannica) of a heart attack (ANB). He was descended from South Carolina aristocracy (Hart, 1) on his father’s side, but wealth failed during the Civil War, as his ancestors were prosperous holders (ANB). Dubose Heyward and he did not live in the same grandeur and abundance as his grandparents, and actually grew up knowing poverty (Hart, 1). Dubose was born to Edwin Watkins Heyward and Jane Screven. Because of his family’s downfall, after the Civil War, Edwin Watkins Heyward worked as a mill hand and died when Dubose was two years old. Thus, Jane Scraven Heyward was left as single mother, having to take in sewing to support her family (ANB). Jane Scraven Heyward had a big influence on her son’s writing career, as she was “a performer and interpreter of Gullah life in folktale and song” (Hutchisson)- the population from which Heyward’s most acclaimed novel were based. In addition to helping to inspire her son’s novels, she wrote a book of her own in 1923 titled Brown Jackets (I-Share). Dubose attended private school until 4th grade, but only stayed in public school until the age of 14. In his writing about his schooling, he describes himself as “a miserable student” (ANB). When he dropped out of school he first began to work as a hardware clerk, then (ANB), at 17 (EB) he began to work for a steamship company among African- American stevedores (ANB), whom he observed and used in his writing (EB). He suffered from a series of illnesses: polio, typhoid fever and pleurisy between 18 and 21, and never fully recovered from the effects to his body. At the age of 21, Dubose Heyward started an insurance and real estate company with his friend Henry T O’Neil, which did well and became Dubose’s main source of income until almost 18 years later, in 1924, when he gave up his business, as well as his position of President of the South Carolina Poetry Society (ANB), South Carolina’s first poetry society (Hart, 1), which he founded with his friend Hervey Allen. In 1913, Heyward wrote a one act play, which was never, published, but was performed, with a great deal of success at a local theatre. Heyward published his first work, a short story called The Brute, in 1918. In 1923 he married his wife Dorothy and one year later moved with her to the Great Smokies to focus professionally on his writing and lecture at colleges (ANB). Heyward is best known for his first novel, Porgy (1924), “the first major southern novel to portray blacks without condescension. Just a decade later George Gershwin had transformed Heyward’s book into an opera [for which Heyward and Ira Gershwin wrote the libretto and words (AE) that would become one of the most enduring masterworks of American music” (Hutchisson).
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
As mentioned in the subsequent history, Heyward's Mamba's Daughters was the work of a "social reformer" (Hutchinson, 34). Michael Allen, an education specialist, who has studied and done research on Gullah culture for many, years is says that Heyward, especially in Mamba's Daughters really helped give some awareness and attention to the Gullah people and Gullah culture. (http://www.scseagrant.org/Content/?cid=411) Gullah people are descendants of slaves living in the South Carolina and Georgia areas, especially near the Charleston region. The culture of the Gullah people is a culture made up of the various African traditions and cultures that the slaves were able to carry with them to the United States. Even up until now, the Gullah culture is a symbol of pride for black Americans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gullah). In Charleston, as is seen in the novel, the Gullah people of Catfish Row are poor African-Americans who live in a segregated, dilapidated part of Charleston, who, despite working the most menial, slave-like jobs held fast onto their culture and family. "Heyward also served during this period on various civil rights-oriented charities and committees, including the Association of Negro Writers and the Writer's League Against Lynching" (Hutchisson). Thus, in some ways Mamba's Daughters was received as a revolutionary yet accessible and not too critical work.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
As mentioned in the subsequent history, Heyward's Mamba's Daughters was the work of a "social reformer" (Hutchinson, 34). Michael Allen, an education specialist, who has studied and done research on Gullah culture for many, years is says that Heyward, especially in Mamba's Daughters really helped give some awareness and attention to the Gullah people and Gullah culture. (http://www.scseagrant.org/Content/?cid=411) Gullah people are descendants of slaves living in the South Carolina and Georgia areas, especially near the Charleston region. The culture of the Gullah people is a culture made up of the various African traditions and cultures that the slaves were able to carry with them to the United States. Even up until now, the Gullah culture is a symbol of pride for black Americans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gullah). In Charleston, as is seen in the novel, the Gullah people of Catfish Row are poor African-Americans who live in a segregated, dilapidated part of Charleston, who, despite working the most menial, slave-like jobs held fast onto their culture and family. "Heyward also served during this period on various civil rights-oriented charities and committees, including the Association of Negro Writers and the Writer's League Against Lynching" (Hutchisson). Thus, in some ways Mamba's Daughters was received as a revolutionary yet accessible and not too critical work.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
The actual, physical book of Mamba’s Daughters: A Novel of Charleston published by DuBose Heyward in 1929 by Doubleday Doran present itself as a novel about the social life, society and societies of Charleston, South Carolina. From its colorful jacket filled with people, as it seems, from all different classes and races: the white aristocracy with lace and parasols to African- American mine workers with dirtied, old shirt to the subtitle: A Novel of Charleston, the cover of book lends one to thinking that this novel must truly be “A Novel of Charleston”. This novel might fit in with the bestseller genre, along with novels such as Giant by Edna Ferber and Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith, which focuses strongly upon a particular region, be that Texas, the American South. Although Mamba’s Daughters does fall into the bestsellers subgenre of regional novels, it is also, perhaps predominantly, in the bestseller subgenre of novels that look to be an agent of political and/ or social change, such as: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, etc. Upon opening the book, in the first sentence of the author’s note, Du Bose Heyward names Mamba’s Daughters as part of the “regional literature” genre and makes a declaration that “even though it [“regional literature” be avowedly fictional, [it] should be unequivocal in its identification with its locale… [by] apply[ing] the correct names to the city, streets, and outlying districts”. Heyward’s vow and conviction that “regional fiction” should be accurate with the names of location shows even more clearly that part of the motive or effect of the novel is to be a window into the Charleston area region. As is inferred in the introduction of this novel, through the cover art and authors note, the novel is really centered in the Charleston region. The two main families within the novel are the Wentworth family with the mother and two children: St. Julien de Santigny, otherwise known as “Saint” and Polly and Mamba’s family: Mamba the matriarch, Hagar, Mamba’s daughter, and Lissa, Hagar’s daughter. “The Wentworths, as was well known, had been wealthy plantation people before the war” (Heyward, 3). Thus, the Wentworth family is presented as having fallen from one of the highest and richest social positions to still being a family with relative power, but being humbled into living on the low side of white aristocracy. The two families are irreversibly and innately bound together by Mamba, the clear matriarch of her family, who cunningly, even manipulatively, yet endearingly weaves herself and her into the Wentworth household. The first sentence of the book begins “It was no mere chance that, during the first decade of the new century, brought Mamba out of the darkness of the underworld and into the light of the Wentworth’s kitchen. Casual as that even seemed, there is good evidence for the belief that it had its origin in some obscure recess of the woman’s mind; or in perhaps some deep and but half comprehended instinct” (Heyward, 3). This passage portrays Mamba as animalistic. She is described as having been “brought… out of the darkness of the underworld and into the light of the Wentworth’s kitchen”, as if she were some sort of savage-like creature, who prefers to reside in “darkness”. This analogy of her being summoned or lured by an “instinct” from her “darkness” and into “the light of the Wentworth’s kitchen” seems rather jingoistic in its regard and firm distinction of Mamba being an “other” and possessing some sort of otherness. Although in this passage and in many other instances in the novel, Mamba is portrayed as being remarkably clever, there is often some sort of explicit or implied reference to the fact that her intellect is only “half comprehended”. In other words, Mamba’s ingenuity is not all hers or maybe that she is not confidant and aware of her own creative intelligence. While Mamba is often compared or likened to an animal, even in her name, she described as being very clever, and there is always a suggestion that there is some unrealized, unfulfilled incredible intellectual prowess. In the Wikipedia page on the “Mamba”, mamba’s are described as “fast-moving, terrestrial, venomous snakes… they are feared throughout their ranges, especially the black mamba. In Africa, there are many legends and stories describing these snakes”. There is a very strong possibility that Heyward was thinking of the black mamba when he named his central character, also his central figure, Mamba. While Mamba is never described as being feared, like the black mamba, she is well-known and respected within the white aristocracy, that she finds herself associated with throughout her life, with her fellow Gullah people, her daughters, and really almost everyone she come into contact. Mamba also uses her intellect and being for clever, plans and schemes to provide for her daughter and granddaughter. After many years of helping out the Wentworth family and working for them she shows up with the intent of getting a letter that would certify her to work as “a real house-raise' n*****” (Heyward, 35). “She was not there to be amusing now. Four years had gone into building toward this moment; four years of cajolery, flattery, clowning… She was emerging as a new entity now… Mamba stood before them re-created in her own conception of the ideal toward which she had been striving. In some strange manner she seemed to dominate the little room in which she had until so recently come and gone on sufferance. She brought a new, compelling element into the atmosphere that seemed subtly to disturb the ancestral rhythm of thought and action… These white people had given her much, but she had been careful to pile up the countless little uncompensated tasks against this day" (Heyward, 34- 36). On the day Lissa was born, Mamba went to the Wentworth home, ingratiating herself with them so that one day Mamba might fulfil her plan of finding a white aristocratic family with whom she can get a ‘“pay job now... Ah gots tuh get money f uh somet'ing p'tic'lar. An' Ah gots tuh fin' uh white boss whut kin look attuh my chillen when dey meets dey trouble”’ (Heyward, 35). Mamba is this independent, strong, astute, money-earning woman providing for her family, a sort of revolutionary idea and figure- defying not only the racist but also the sexist status quos. Instead of merely receiving gifts in return for her work for the Wentworth family, Mamba is after a job that will provide her more stability and independence for her children by having a steady and reliable income paid to her in real cash, rather than gifts that have value in and of themselves, but does not allow for choosing what to do with the earnings. Mamba, like the mamba snake, has the ability to use the guise of “cajolery, flattery, and clowning” to achieve her goals. She is even able to shed skins, so to speak, to “re-create [herself] in her own conception of the ideal toward which she had been striving”. Within that “emerging into a new identity”, Mamba is given the rare moment plainly to show her power as an individual human being to the white people; “she seemed to dominate the little room… [She] subtly disturb[s] the ancestral rhythm of thought and action”. This scene where she fully emerges as an individual, so much so that “Mrs. Wentworth studied the figure before her... How little she really knew of Mamba, after all. Where had she come from? Why had she sought them out?” (Heyward, 36). Mamba’s power and full self is so evident and “dominat[ing]” that, for the first time, in the four years in which she has shared her life with Mamba, she sees her as an individual, as someone to “stud[y]”, as someone to wonder about. Mamba’s strength of perseverance is so high that she is able to break down even the “ancestral rhythm”. In a non-violent, manner, in a state where she finally does not have to hide or cover up herself in the mask of the servile “negro”, she is realized and understood as being at least equal to her ‘“white folks”’ (Heyward, 14). In a way, Mamba has accomplished more than even the Broaden family, upper middle class, African-American banker family, and their associates. The Broaden family and the other African-Americans who strongly and exclusively associate and operate in the ‘“highbrow”’ (Heyward, 223) society. ‘“They seem to spend all their time saying how glad they are to be negroes and all the time they're trying their damnedest to be white"’ (Heyward, 224). Their mission seems to be to prove that they can reach and be equal with the same “white” artists and artistic performances. The African- American “highbrow” way of living is described consistently described or presented in a way that makes it seem stale and confined. Therefore, even though Mamba must don a guise and attitude in order to be able to provide for herself and her daughters, in the scene where she confronts the Wentworths as an individual, it becomes clear that she has not lost herself and is quite able to, like a snake, to shake loose and shed those constraints. In difficult situations Mamba is quick-thinking, deft, and affective even when she herself has been tired out. Towards the end of the novel, before the final and most severe circumstance the narrator states that “Sundays, after the long hot walk to meet Hagar, there would be moments when she would forget names and faces and the steady light of her purpose would be obscured by blowing mists. Then she would summon her forces and pull her faculties together again, but it was an effort that always left her shaken” (Heyward, 207). After many years of hard, concentrated living, this temporary fog only descends on Mamba on a rare occasion. However, she still has the control, force, and determination with which to fight the haze that descends as a part of aging. Mamba’s intense determination and dedication to the support and advancement of her Lissa allows her to even temporarily transcend nature’s natural course of aging and senility. Even when Mamba has stayed up all night, even until “the single clear note announcing the new day” (Heyward, 251) waiting for Lissa to come home, her first words to Lissa’s teenage friend, Gardinia are, ‘“Ah been waitin’ fer yo’ to come fo’ me. Whar yo’ t’ink she gone?’ Gardenia’s voice was edged with hysteria… [Even after a rant revealing Lissa was drugged] Mamba’s voice came urgent, steadying: ‘Where dat n***** Prince lib”’ (250)? She has such a compassionate, selfless, controlled and steady love for Lissa that she already generally knows what has happened although she had never being told. Despite the sickeningly terrible situation and the “hysterical” friend Mamba is still “steady”. She is the one who asks direct, simple, most pressing questions, standing strong amid the desperation and panic of the moment. She is the one who leads the successful rescue mission quite deftly. It is as if her intelligence and determination supersedes her role in society, each situation she finds herself in, and even her emotions. Rather, her emotions might be so controlled that they are channeled straight into her intellect and her determination loyalty, and love for her family. Her body is shrunken with the actual physical contraction of age… But this inevitable physical mutation which in another would denote senility has, instead of diminishing the force of her personality, in some strange way intensified it, so that those who speak to the old woman as she sits there feel it in the air about her like an aura. The negro children who come and go sense it and grin delightedly at her word of affectionate abuse. The cur… has gone there for refuge from a world that has no pity upon an unlicensed mongrel (Heyward, 310- 311). Although Mamba has been outdated and outlived her own time period, living in a newer commoditized world where even a dog, usually shunned, banned and pretty much altogether unrecognized by society, is even expected to be “licensed”, her mere presence demands respect and notice. With the outward shrinking of her body and physical features, her true character and self has been able to “intensify” to such a degree that “as she sits there [one can] feel it in the air about her like an aura”. In a way, her being’s essence has extended herself to break the boundaries imposed by the outward appearances. Thus, in many ways, Mamba’s Daughters is a revolutionary, expository bestseller. Even though there are many elements of this novel that describe and show Mamba and other African-Americans in a racist, prejudiced light, for example, in the way that is constantly likens Mamba and Hagar to an animal or savage, in the era of Jim Crow laws, Heyward has succeeded in “using his writing to become more openly a social reformer and to adopt a more critical view of race and class in the South. In fact, in the late 1920s and early 1930s Heyward openly aligned himself with several liberal reformers (Hutchinsson, 34). This novel holds the bestseller characteristic of working to show that beyond a doubt, in every acclaimed character trait: intelligence, hard work, creativity, perseverance, dedication to family, etc. either Mamba or one of her daughters matches or surpasses the white folk, and at the same time is able to uphold and keep their own selves and culture in the process. Works Cited Heyward, DuBose. Mamba’s Daughters. Garden City, NY” Doubleday Doran, 1929. Print. Hutchisson, James M., ed. DuBose Heyward Reader. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2003. "Mamba." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Apr. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2014. .
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