Nigger Heaven

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926.


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 amidst 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. Depending on the source, the recipient Dorothy Peterson was either the sole model for the book's female heroine or one of a composite credited from a few close friends of Van Vechten. 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 became 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.

Item #73295

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Nigger Heaven. Carl VAN VECHTEN.

Carl Van Vechten
birth name: Carl Van Vechten
born: 6/17/1880
died: 12/21/1964

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American novelist and music and drama critic, an influential figure in New York literary circles in the 1920s; he was an early enthusiast of American black culture. - Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literaturemore