Beach, Rex: The Spoilers
(researched by Katherine Margolis)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

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

Rex Beach. The Spoilers. New York : Harper & Brothers, 1905.

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

The first American edition is published in trade cloth binding.

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

4 Pagination

161 leaves, pp.[6]1-11[1]13-20[1] 22-46[1]48-66[3]68-74[2]75-78[1] 80-92[1]94-105[1]107-116[2]117-118 [1]120-130[1]132-147[1]149-166[1] 168-181[1]183-186[2]187-194[2] 195-199[1]201-216[1]218-234[1] 236-247[1]249-266[1]268-283[1] 285-298[1]300-313[3]

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

This edition is not edited or introduced.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

Black and white plates facing the tile page,p. 74,116, and 194 are drawings with captions, quoted from the text, by Clarence F. Underwood; color plates facing p. 66 and 186 are drawings with captions, quoted from the text, by Harrison Fifer.

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?)

71/8 x 4 3/4 inch size page, text 5 1/2 inches high and 3 1/2 inches wide. Type size is readable, but there is some cracking and smearing. 66R type size.Serif. Chapter headings are all capital letters, as are captions for plates. Top of Page headings are in a different typeface, and bold.

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 paper is wove with an even, granulated texture. No chainlinks or watermarks. Pages are slightly yellow, with minimal damage, although a second copy which I examined had quite a few stains. Plates are on glossy stock.

11 Description of binding(s)

No dust jacket on either copy of first edition. Both have greenish, dotted-line grain cloth binding with a stamped orange, white and black design, integrated with the green to form the design. Spine: THE SPOILERS | (Publisher's Mark) | REX-E- | BEACH | HARPERS Front Cover: (Stamped image of a sailboat and some trees, unsigned) | THE | SPOILERS | (Stamped image of a bird) | REX-E-BEACH | (Stamped image of houses and a mountain)

12 Transcription of title page


13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

According to all sources consulted, there are no manuscript holdings of this book.

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

Two inscriptions: The first reads, "Edward James Cotter" and is on the glued front end paper in blue ink. The second reads, "Lila-Barrett Cassel" and appears on the loose front end paper in black ink. All the plates found within the text are no longer bound.

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

Harper and Brothers did issue an edition in 1907, with illustrations from the play.

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?

Harper and Brothers issued two impressions of the first edition, the second one in 1906.

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

A.L. Burt: 1906 1922 P.F. Collier and Company 192? (Yukon Edition)

6 Last date in print?

The Spoilers is still in print.

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

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

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

In 1906 The Spoilers; A Play in Four Acts was published by Rex Beach and James MacArthur. I can locate no records of its performance, only its publication. In the film, however, The Spoilers was a huge success, first released as a silent film in 1914, and subsequently remade four more times. The most recent was in 1956, starring Jeff Chandler and Rory Calhoun, but the most popular, and, dare I say, the most fabulous, was the 1942 version with John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich. The silent version (#1) was one of the first major, feature-length productions, preceding The Birth of a Nation (1915) by nine months. There is also a 1930 version starring Gary Cooper. With a title like The Spoilers in the early part of the century, in the United States, there was no choice but to succeed, especially with such great stars! Sources Magill, Frank N. Magill's Survey of Cinema: Silent Films, (Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Salem Press,1982), 1028-1030. Munden, Kenneth W., ed. The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States, (berkeley : University of California, 1998), 757.

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

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

The Spoilers was serialized previous to its publication in Everybody's Magazine, beginning in 1905

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


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Rex Beach was born Rex Ellingwood Beach on September 1, 1877 in Atwood, Michigan. His father was a fruit farmer, Henry Walter Beach, and his mother, a former schoolteacher, was Eva Eunice Canfield. When Rex was
age nine, the family relocated to Tampa, Florida. In 1891, Beach began his formal education in the preparatory department of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where he earned his tution money by managing a laundry. He was a good student and active in extracurricular activities, including sports
and editing the school's literary magazine. Despite this, he dropped out just short of graduationg and joined his two brothers, who were both attornies in chicago, where he did odd jobs for them while attending the Chicago College of Law. He was still a
ctive in sports, though hardly strapping; he was six feet and one inch tall, but barely weighed 200 pounds.
In 1897 Beach went to the Klondike in search of Alaskan gold. Five years later he returned to Chicago, having spent his time in Alaska working and suffering and absorbing the local color. Back in Cicago, he quickly advanced to an executive position in a
brick and clay company. It was during this time that a friend told him that he might be able to sell some of the stories which he had been writing about Alaska. He sold a total of five stories to McClure's Magazine in 1904, at the age of 27. These sto
ries became the basis for Pardners (1905), a collection of melodramatic tales of good and evilmen in Alaska and the Far West. By 1906 he was writing full time. In 1905 he had begun to serialize The Spoilers in Everybody's Magazine, and his life and car
reer really took off after this. Beach became a bestselling fiction writer and producer of movies based on his work. In 1906, Beach moved to New York City and married Greta Carter of Denver. The couple had no children. Other works include: The Barrie
r: A Novel (1908), The Silver Horde (1909), The Ne'er-Do-Well (1911), The NEt (1912), The Auction Block: A Novel of New York Life (1914), Heart of the Sunset (1915), The Iron Trail: An Alaskan Romance (1913), and The Winds of Chance (1918), The Mating Ca
ll (1927), Jungle Gold (1935), The World in His Arms (1946), and Women in Ambush (published posthumously, in 1951). Beach was very much in charge of his own carreer, even becoming the first American to retain movie rights to his own fiction.
Beach was very rich and slowed his writing down in the 1920's and 1930's in favor of sgricultural pursuits. He moved to Sebring, Florida and raised gladioli, Christmas lilies, mineralized fruits and vegetables and helping to develop the Florida cattle
Beach had been sick for many years, and, two years after his wife died, while breathing through a tube in his neck, being fed by another in his stomach, going blind and in terrible pain he shot himself to death in his Sebring bedroom in December of 1949.

Rex Beach's personal papers are at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.

Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, eds. American National Bigraphy, (New York : Oxford University Press, 1999), 388-389.

Assignment 4: Reception History

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

No critic seemed to hold very much respect for Mr. Beach. Most of the contemporary reviews seem to acknowledge that he is fun, but strike a blow at his intellect. Most apparrent from the reviews is that he is a
man's man.
" The only trouble with his method is that it results in an absolutely false picture of life. " Edward Clark Marsh. Bookmans June 1906.
"He is chiefly intent on his story. That's a thing full of drtamatic incidents and dramatic figures. If the hero and heroine are less effective than the others, that is one of the proved penalties of the dignity." New York Times April 14, 1906.

The Book Review Digest ( Minneapolis : H. W. Wilson, 1906),19.

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

Beach left something of a mark on the cultural life of this country. He was very successful and rich and ran his carreer himself. And, although it needs no repeating, he is remembered occa
sionally, and when he is, it is as a "man's man."He is mentioned in some recent dissertations, mainly for his signifigance as both a film and fiction figur, simeltaneously.
Belpedio, James R. "Facts, Fiction, Film: Rex Beach and The Spoilers," DA9605464. University of North Dakota, 1995.
Klein, William. "Authors and Creators: Up by Their Own Bootstraps," Communications and the Law, September 1992, 41.

MLA Bibliography (online):
Periodical Index (online) :

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

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

Critics in 1905 and 1906 liked one thing and one thing only about The Spoilers; it was manly. Nobody foresaw Rex Beach's great literary career from the get go, because what he was writing was not considered great literature. Not even close. What it
was considered was great adventure, a la Jack London. Using his first hand experience in the Yukon and the imagination of a romantic soul, he produced an adventure peppered with a manly amount of mush, just right for a macho public desiring adventure. I
deal for the movies. Which is exactly what it became. Again and again and again and again. And again. And Rex Beach became a man of, for and about the movies as well. His fiction continued to turn into motion pictures, and he became more and more involved in each one.
Beach's connection to the West and his taste for the cinematic experience brought great success for him in an era of rebirth, rebuilding, expansion and new wealth. Westward expansion, the ultimate romantic notion within the American dream, was coming to a close, but Alaska was still an unsullied frontier. The motion picture was just beginning, and the "talkie" had yet to happen when The Spoilers was published, so
the two frontiers presented quite a new world of communication, entertainment and adventure, and it all landed in Rex Beach's lap. Between 1877 and 1892, a few men who saw themselves as nation-builders managed to accumulate huge fortunes. Andrew Carnegie (steel), John D. Rockefeller (oil), Charles Pillsbury (flour), Andrew Mellon (banking), Phillip Armour (meatpacking), Gustavus Swift (meatpacking), J. P. Morgan (banking), Cornelius Vanderbilt (railroads), Marcus Daly (copper), John Jacob Astor and James Duke (tobacco) were only a few of them. Duke found and used a new cigarette-rolling machine that could turn out 100,000 cigarettes a day. Duke also put together the American Tobacco Company by combining the four largest cigarette companies. These men saw expansion to the West as an economic opportunity requiring a combination of rail transportation using free land, raw materials, cheap labor, new technology. The first transcontinental telegraph line was completed in 1861, and a huge, expanding market of consumers for everything manufactured flourished in the new West. In the period from 1860 to 1914, the foundation for a consumption-based economy was built. By 1896, Alaska had been acquired by purchase from Russia in 1867 for $7 million in gold. At the time, William Seward was Secretary of State in the Grant Administration. (The Alaska Purchase was known by skeptical observers as "Seward's Folly.") Both Hawaii and Alaska were territories and did not become States until the 1950s. Before entering World War I in 1917, it seems appropriate to mention a film that so revised and perverted history that it deserves comment. The power even then -- 1914 -- of Hollywood's foray into historical filming was a product so dreadfully racist it stands as a monument to falsity. The film, The Birth of a Nation, was based on a novel by Thomas Dixon. Jr., The Clansmen. Produced by D. W. Griffith, The Birth of a Nation was seen by some two hundred million people between 1915 and 1946 in the United States and overseas, where it scored particularly impressive triumphs in Germany and South Africa. The America of the 1920s was not scarred by the Great War that ended for Americans on November 11, 1918. The return of its soldiers was welcomed by a paper-strewn parade up Fifth Avenue. The Jazz Age was off and running, even before the war ended. The 1920s was also a period of prolific new writers who had "experienced" war and could do so with a new dimension. There were publishers who saw the potential and opened for business. Simon & Schuster opened their doors in 1923, but its first product was not really a book, but the first Cross Word Puzzle Book in 1924. Its sales plus the sales of dictionaries geared to the puzzle put Simon & Schuster in the black quickly. Charles Scribner & Company was one of the post-Civil War publishers and G. P. Putnam was one of the pioneers. American publishers opened offices in London, and British publishers followed suit but for different reasons. The Americans were in London to find European authors, while UK publishers like the Oxford University Press and Macmillans were in New York for the business available and the profits to be made. After the Civil War and the end of American expansion westward, people began reading even more than ever, probably because of the growth of public libraries. The 1920s, in spirit at least, began with the closing of the bloodiest conflict the world had ever witnessed. A tired country welcomed back her men at arms with open arms.
People also spent a good deal of their time at the movie theater and listening to the radio watching and listening to others do the things that they couldn't. Film became one of the most important cultural and financial forces, and Rex Beach and his Spoilers were in the driver's seat for their own little corner of the whole market. Beach was the first American to retain movie rights to his fiction, and the or
iginal film of The Spoilers (the silent version), was one of the first American feature length films. The Western had begun to leave an indelible mark on the world. Thanks to Hollywood, virtually everyone knows the ingredients of the Western--the lassos and the Colt .45s; the long-horned steers and the hanging trees; the stagecoaches and the Stetson hats
; the outlaws and the lawmen; the gamblers and the gunfighters. Rex Beach took the moviegoer even further west, and with this promise, extended the American mind to be able to grasp onto a much-needed frontier. The Western may be the perfect vehicle for silent narrative film, since it values action over language. The Western hero is the possessor of physical strength, stamina, and an innate sense of the right thing to do; he rejects eloquence, refinement, and s
uperior intelligence as standards of measure. In the early twentieth century, he holds special appeal for audiences because he functions as the antithesis of Eastern, industrialized culture. In an era of assembly-line and factory labor, especially for the
working-class citizens who made up a majority of early audiences, the Western hero returned a sense of purpose to labor, and added to labor's appeal through a new setting and a sense of excitement. The Western hero is serious not only in his labor, but also in his outlook. Although the cowboy was present in silent Westerns as early as 1904, most of the early films featured Indians and trappers as heroes. The cowboy's screen image, in the beginning
a product of popular Eastern myths about the West, came to embody those myths while also blurring the distinction between "film West" and "real West" in the casting practices of the Hollywood studios. This blurring of history and myth occurred in the por
trayal of other Western types as well. Beach took life for what it was, and for him it was very successful. He all but gave up novels and their film counterparts in the last 20 years of his life, turning to gardening as a more common pastime. He was a very rich gardener, though. Rex Beach
was able to frolic among the flowers for the end of his life, because he had spent the earlier part of it working hard at the unique task of subtly capturing the nation's hearts.
Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, eds. American National Biography, (New York : Oxford University Press, 1999), 388-389.
Brinton, William N. An Abridged History of the United States, Available from: Accessed May 1999.
Library of Congress. Edison's Timeline for Inventing Entertainment, Available from : Accessed May 1999.

Supplemental Material


You are not logged in. (Sign in)