Lewis, Sinclair: Kingsblood Royal
(researched by Carrie Han)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Sinclair Lewis. Kingsblood Royal. New York: Random House, Inc., 1947. The book was simultaneously published in Toronto, Canada by Random House of Canada, Ltd. The copyrights of introductions or biographical notes listed in future editions belong to Charles Johnson and Random House, Inc. respectively. The original copyright of the text belongs to Sinclair Lewis.

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

First edition is a hard cover published in cloth.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

175 leaves, pp. [6] [1] [2] 3-348 [2]

4 leaves in total are not counted as part of the numbering sequence. Numbered pages start from page 3 and proceed to page 348. Page numbers are located on the bottom middle section, 2cm from the edge of the page. Verso pagination is adopted.

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

The first edition is not edited nor introduced, but dedicated to S.S.S. (meaning small secret spies).  S.S.S. is believed to be Marcella Powers, Lewis’ mistress.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

The first edition is not illustrated.

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?)

Margins are wide enough to help the reader with his/her reading experience. They are 3.81cm at the bottom, 2cm on the left side for left pages (vice versa for right pages), and 1.2cm at the top. Each letter is approximately 0.2~0.3cm in height and 0.1cm in width, adequate in size. 20 lines measure 9cm in depth. Chapters are numbered in Arabic numbers, though new chapters don’t necessarily start at a new page. There are 54 chapters in total. The first letter of a chapter is decorated to be large and bold. There are in average about 35 lines per page. Only black ink was used to print the letters. The book’s hard cover measures 21.5 cm in length and 14.3cm in width. The pages measure to be 21cm in length and 13.5cm in width. Fonts used are transitional serifs, which are “transitions between old style and neo-classical designs.” Using Identifont, the “granjon” was the most likely candidate. It is a type that includes oldstyle serif figures.

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?)

Paper is smooth, woven, and in very good condition. Concluding that it is hard-wearing is acknowledgeable considering that it withstood more than 70 years. Other than being slightly yellowed due to time, there are no warpings, tears, or stains. It has a straight edge for both the sides and the top/bottoms.

11 Description of binding(s)

The first edition is case bound. Pages are divided and stitched together into 11 sections, the sections are than sewn together. The last page(endpaper) is sewn into the cloth-covered hard cover case. Each stitched section is about 0.3cm thick, and the binding is 2.5cm in length. The book is covered with light greenish gray cloth, and the spine of the book has two black slots which have the title and the name of the author written horizontally in gold ink. The cover is stamped “SL”, meaning Sinclair Lewis, in gold ink. The publisher’s name is stamped in black. The cloth covering is embossed calico grain. (Gaskell, p.238)

12 Transcription of title page

SINCLAIR LEWIS | KINGSBLOOD | ROYAL | [illustrated logo of Random House, Inc., 30 X 30 mm.] | RANDOM HOUSE • NEW YORK

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

Proofs of Sinclair Lewis Books 1926-1952 by Sinclair Lewis contains galley proofs for Kingsblood Royal as well as other novels by the author such as Mantrap and Work of Art. This book is in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library in the University of Virginia.

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

The dustjacket for the first edition is glossy, black paper. The front flap of the dustjacket advertises the book as “a blazing story with a theme that will jolt the nation!” in bold, capitalized letters. The black flap contains a photograph of Lewis, his achievement in winning the Nobel Prize for literature, and three of his novels which are listed in the Modern Library collection by Random House. The particular copy examined was a signed copy. It is to “Carl” and signed by the author as “Red Lewis.”

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

Search results on websites GoodReads and AbeBooks list an edition published in 1997 by Random House. However there is no cover image available on both of the websites. WorldCat, the National Union Catalogue, and Amazon search results do not reveal a 1997 edition. Descriptions of illustrations or the size of the book were unavailable. A subsequent edition was published in 2001 by Modern Library. Random House, the original publisher, was set up in 1927 as a division of Modern Library (founded in 1917). Later, Random House and Modern Library switched places so that Random House became the parent company. In 2001, Kingsblood Royal was published in a new edition as a part of the “Modern Library Classics” series. This paperback edition is 215mm x 130mm in size. No illustrations are added. Search on Identifont suggested that “Berthold Baskerville Bold,” an oldstyle fashion font, was the closest typography to the text of this recent edition.

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?

From research on various websites (WorldCat, AbeBooks, GibbsBooks, Amazon), it seems that there was only one printing of Kingsblood Royal. The website Random House for High School Teachers supports this hypothesis, stating “Though popular at the time of publication, it was quickly expunged from the American literary canon and has been out of print since.” Kirkus Reviews, a literary review magazine, also states the following: “In 1947, Kirkus predicted—wrongly—that "any Sinclair Lewis book has tremendous sales impetus." Soon after publication, Kingsblood Royal fell out of print, and the cause seems apparent now: as much as readers readily took to Lewis's fictional attacks on American business (Dodsworth) and sham preachers (Elmer Gantry), they weren't quite prepared for his novel on race.” However this information is not certain as research for Kingsblood Royal on AbeBooks showed up a search result for a 2nd printing of the 1st edition.

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

London: Jonathan Cape (the first UK edition, 1948), New York: Bantam Books (1949), the University of Adelaide Library (eBook edition, 2004). This information was gathered through searches on WorldCat and Amazon.

6 Last date in print?

As mentioned in question 1, there was a recently published edition of Kingsblood Royal by Modern Library in 2001. This seems to be the last date in print for this book based on search results of Amazon and WorldCat. However other books by Sinclair Lewis were still actively in print. A Reprint Edition of Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here was most recently published on June 29, 2017 by Penguin Modern Classics. This novel was also printed on Jan 7, 2014 by Signet. Signet Classics also published a reprint edition of Lewis’ Main Street and Arrowsmith in June 3, 2008 and March 4, 2008 respectively. Free Air was recently published by Dover Publications on April 18, 2018.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

According to the July 19th, 1947 edition of Publishers Weekly, the book was published on May 23, 1947. 125,000 copies were sold as of July 5, 1947 according to Publishers Weekly volume 152, number 1, section 1. As of September 27, 1947, 790,000 copies of the book had been sold. A definite number is not given, but Alice Hackett’s 80 Years of Bestsellers (1895-1975) records that “the Lewis book had an overall sale of about 800,000, of which 115,000 were sold in the stores.”

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

It first made the “Candidates for the Best Seller List” on June 21, 1947. It was number two on the fiction category of the “National Best Sellers – June” list accumulated by Publishers Weekly and posted on their July 19th Edition (0.667%). It was number one on the same category, same list for July of 1947 (0.729%). Its sales figures decreased to fourth place in August (0.478% of sales). Alice Hackett’s 80 Years of Bestsellers (1895-1975) ranks the book as 8th place on its annual bestsellers list (fiction) for the year 1947. Publishers Weekly indicates that Kingsblood Royal was sold for $3.

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

In the May 24, 1947 edition of Publishers Weekly, it mentioned Kingsblood Royal in its “the Weekly Record” section. The advertising copy is the following: “Neil Kingsblood, bank officer and veteran in a mid-western town, discovers that he is 1/32 Negro, decides to act upon his knowledge and live as a Negro and faces, embattled, the resulting storm of race hate.” In its June 21 edition, Publishers Weekly described the novel as “the leading new fiction Candidate that everyone’s talking about.” The New York Times for February 20, 1947 advertised Kingsblood Royal in its “Books-Authors” section by introducing it as a novel which “has great expectations.” It also stated that it was a Literary Guild selection for June. On the New York Times for October 12, 1947, a display ad was shown marking Kingsblood Royal as the 8th in leading fiction titles for the past 3 weeks.

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

Searches on Publishers Weekly did not yield specific promotion of Kingsblood Royal, but Tebbel introduces some advertising practices of Random House. They worked with renowned typographers of the time to make their books more aesthetically beautiful, and then advertised this collaboration. Also, they had limited signed copies of the book which were advertised and sold with much public interest. They sometimes printed luxurious editions of a novel with full-page drawings by famous illustrators.


12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A


13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

1) De sang royal (French), translated by Helene Claireau, Paris: Flammarion. Editions published in 1948, 1964, 1974.

Another French edition translated by Gilbert Sigaux and Helene Claireau, Geneve: Edito-Service, 1968.

2) Kiralyi ver: [Regeny] (Hungarian), translated by Szilagyi Tibor, Budapest: Noval Irodalmi Intezet, 1948.

Another Hungarian edition (the translator’s name is unavailable) was published in 1978 by Budapest: Europa.

3) Kraljevska krv (Servian), translator’s name unavailable, Beograd, Prosveta, 1950. Another Servian edition by Beograd: Politika: Narodna knjiga was published in 2004.

4) Af Kongeblod (Danish), translated by Johanne Marie Larsen, Kobenhavn, H. Hagerup’s Forlab,1948.

5) Krolewska krew (Polish), translated by Jan Stefczyk, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo “Prasa Wojskowa”, 1949.

Another Polish edition was published in 1950 by Warszawa: Ksiazka I Wiedza

6) 血の宣言 (Japanese), translated by Naotaro Tatsunokuchi, スナー社(Tōkyō : Risunāsha, Shōwa), 1949. 

7) 王孙梦 (Chinese), translated by Xiaoshi Yang, 上海译 文出版社, 1957. Other Chinese editions were published in 1980 and 1990 by 新世纪出版社(Guang zhou : Xin shi ji chu ban she).
8) Kingsblad, potomok korolej (Russian), translator’s name unavailable, Moskva: Gosudarstvennoeizdatel’stco Inostrannoi Literatury, 1949. Other Russian editions were published in 1965 by Moskva: Sov. Rossiia and in 1989 by Moskva: Pravda.

9) Der königliche Kingsblood : Roman (German). The list of publishers and publication dates are as follows. If an edition is listed without a translator, the name was unavailable in research.

1951 Zurich: Steinberg (translator Rudolf Frank)

1956 Frankfurt/M. Ullstein Taschenbucher-Verl

1959 Berlin: Ullstein Bucher

1959: Frankfurt am Main: Ullstein

1960 Leipzig: List

1960  Berlin: Verl. Kultur u. Fortschritt

10) Sangre de Rey (Spanish), translator’s name unavailable, NewYork: Random House, 1947. Another Spanish edition was published in 1962 by Barcelona: Plaza & Janes.

11) Av Kungligt Blod (Swedish), translated by Aida Törnell, Stockholm: Albatross, 1949.

12) Kraljevski Kingsblood (Slovenian), translated by Janez Gradisnik, Ljubljana: Drzavna zalozba Slovenije, 1952.

13) Sangue reale (Italian), translated by Renato Guttuso, Milano: A. Mondadori, 1951.

14) Kingsblood, Urmasul Regilor (Romanian), translator’s name unavailable, Bucuresti: Pentru Literatura, 1961.

15) Z Rodu Kralovskeho (Czech), translated by Viera Szathmara Vlckova, Bratislava: Slovenske Vydavatelstvo Kraenej Literatury, 1957.

16) Krlska Kruv (Bulgarian), 1948. (publisher and translator were unavailable)

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A

Searches on the Publishers Weekly and Twaynes Authors Online did not indicate that the book had been serialized. However, searches on WorldCat showed that the Polish translation for the book (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo “Prasa Wojskowa”, 1949) was serialized into four volumes.

15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A

There are no sequels or prequels for Kingsblood Royal, but Lewis’ other works consist of a three-novel(Maint Street, Babbitt, Arrowsmith) omnibus series, all of them taking place in the fictional city of Zenith.

Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

For an overview of Lewis’ life, refer to past entries on Main Street and Babbitt. Mark Schorer commented on Lewis as “a prime example of … the man who enjoys a tremendous and rather early success and then suffers through a long period of decline and deterioration.” The time of writing and publishing Kingsblood Royal is precisely during this “long decline” toward the end of his life in 1951. Two years prior to the publication in 1947, Lewis learns that his son is killed in Alsace. Around this time, he parts with Marcella Powers, his love affair. Powers eventually leaves Lewis to marry another man in 1947, when Kingsblood Royal was published. Lewis started planning the book in early 1946 and moved to Thorvale Farm in Massachusetts. There, he went “door to door in black sections of southern-towns” asking residents to retell their experiences as an ethnic minority. Walter White of the NAACP, with whom Lewis had become friends in the 1920s, “served as a possible model for Neil Kingsblood.” White also helped Lewis write the book by connecting him to African American intellectuals, thereby giving an insiders’ view on the subject matter. The complete first draft took only 5 weeks to write, and the whole book was finished within a year. Despite his repeated failures in romance, (two failed marriages, one failed affair with Powers, and many courtships throughout his life) Lewis’ attraction to “strong women” actively working as authors, columnists, or literary agents has affected female characters in his novels. The most prominent figure is Vestal Kingsblood in Kingsblood Royal. Vestal Kingsblood considers abortion, which is a surprisingly radical, not to say illegal, thought in the beginning of the 20th century. This description of females as self-thinking individuals reflect upon Lewis’ personal life, where he incorporated opinions of his female companions in revising the book. Revisions of the Babbitt or Grace Casanova’s “With Love from Gracie” are some examples of this active exchange of ideas. Kingsblood Royal was a sharp return to the Lewis’ signature observation of a particular aspect of American life—along with his criticism of extreme detail and harshness. Fleming speculates that this return was because of Lewis’ downward spiral during his 1930s; his novels did not get the social uproar that they used to have, and Lewis desperately needed a success.

Sources cited are as follows: 

Dooley, D. J. The Art of Sinclair Lewis. University of Nebraska Press, 1967.

Pastore, Stephen M. Sinclair Lewis: A Descriptive Bibliography. YALEbooks: New Haven, 1997.

Hutchisson, James M., editor. Sinclair Lewis: new essays in criticism. Whitston, 1997. Entry by Sally E. Parry, Boundary Ambiguity and the Politics of Abortion: Women's Choices in Ann Vickers and Kingsblood Royal

Bucco, Martin, editor. Critical essays on Sinclair Lewis. Boston:Hall, 1986. Essay by Robert E. Fleming, Kingsblood Royal and the Black "Passing" Novel

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

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