New York: Macmillan Company, 1941. Memorial Production Edition. Octavo, publisher’s cobalt cloth, spine and upper board gilt, original printed dust jacket, original paperboard box.
Playwright Marion Morse MacKaye’s dramatization of Jane Austen’s bildungsroman, issued on the occasion of the premiere production at Alfred G. Arvold’s Little Country Theater (LTC) in Fargo, North Dakota. A pioneer of the rural stage movement, Arvold established the theater in 1914. Believing that populations in rural areas had not been given the opportunity to express their theatrical talents, he encouraged members of his community to write, produce, and perform in their own plays. (George Bernard Shaw referred to him as "the minister of fine arts to the country communities of America"). The world premiere of MacKaye’s three-act adaptation was a momentous occasion for the theater and marked the debut of Arvold’s son, Mason Arvold, as director and stage designer of an LTC production. The present copy is inscribed on the front endpaper by Mason to Frances Bettschen, who played the character of Harriet in the production: "To Frances Bettschen / In remembrance of her excellent understanding and fine portrayal of the character of Harriet in the world premiere of EMMA in Fargo, May 1941 / Mason Arvold / August 26, 1941." Bettschen and Mason married soon after. Number SP14 of 500 copies signed by Percy MacKaye, who wrote the prologue, and both Alfred and Mason Arvold (author Marion Morse MacKaye, had died in 1939). Illustrated with several color and black-and-white stage designs by Mason, and a black-and-white frontisportrait of Marion MacKaye. Fine. Scarce thus inscribed and in original paperboard box. Item #4157