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VAN VECHTEN, Carl

Nigger Heaven

First edition. Some chipping to the cloth at the crown, front hinge neatly restored, still a sound, very good copy lacking the rare dustwrapper. This copy Inscribed to Dorothy Peterson: "Carl Van Vechten to his friend Dorothy Peterson. July 25, 1926." A novel about a young couple in Harlem, set amid the cabarets and soirees of the Harlem Renaissance, which has been controversial ever since it was published because of its title. However, Van Vechten, who was white, was tireless in his support of African-American artists and writers even after the glamour of the Renaissance, which had drawn so many white intellectuals to Harlem, had waned. The recipient, Dorothy Peterson, was the model for the book's female heroine. Peterson co-founded both the Harlem Experimental Theatre and the Harlem Suitcase Theatre, and her home was one of Harlem's most important and well-attended literary salons. She also devoted herself to collecting manuscripts of Harlem Renaissance notables, and eventually helped Van Vechten donate the material that was the basis for the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts and Letters at Yale University. She was a sponsor of the short-lived but influential periodical Fire!!, and was also reputed to be "the one Afro-American woman [Jean] Toomer [who soon after married a white woman] was once thought to care about" (Berry, p.214). A spectacular association copy.

[BTC #73295]

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