While searching for a piece of literature at the Sojourner Truth Library that contained marginalia was quite difficult at first, I finally discovered a quite fascinating piece for my Book Traces project. The book is titled The Spoilers and was written by a man named Rex E. Beach and illustrated by Clarence F. Underwood. It was published by the Harper & Brothers Publishers in New York and London in the year 1905. However, the copy that I had encountered was published in April, 1906.
The first marginalia that I discovered was on the very first page of the book, before the title page. The marginalia consisted of a clipping from a newspaper or magazine that was pasted on the page. The clipping contains an advertisement to see the book’s first production as a play on stage. Unfortunately, the year is not provided, but it does state that it began on a Monday night on November 5th and that it was shown for only two weeks. Even though the year is not given to us, it can be deduced that it became a play in the early 20th century. On the program, there is a list of the cast; the characters were listed in the order in which they first appeared on the stage. Toward the bottom of the marginalia, there is also a synopsis of all scenes that would happen during the play. Another fascinating thing I found on the clipping was a picture of a man. I researched what Rex E. Beach looked like on Google and it seems to me that the picture in the book matches the pictures of Rex E. Beach that I researched.
The second piece of marginalia that I found was on the first page of the first chapter. The marginalia consisted of a piece of paper that was cut and pasted to the page with the words, “Very truly yours,” which was done with a typewriter and then below that, there is a signature of the author Rex E. Beach. I have deduced that perhaps the piece of paper was part of a letter that had been written to someone from Rex E. Beach himself.
Rex E. Beach was born in Michigan in the year 1877. He was on his way to becoming a lawyer before the Alaska Gold Rush caught his attention and he headed there to make his fortune. Unfortunately, after a couple of years he was still looking for it and, realizing that he was not going to find it in gold prospecting, he turned to writing books. The Spoilers was his second novel and was based on a true story of corrupt government officials stealing gold mines from prospectors, which he witnessed while he was prospecting in Nome, Alaska. This novel became the best-selling novel of 1906 and later had a couple of movie adaptations.
Overall, I really enjoyed this project because there is so much history to be learned and appreciated for many years to come. (As long as we continue to pull out books from their shelves the right way!)