AUTHOR: MILNE, A. A..
TITLE: Michael and Mary A Play.
PUBLISHER: London: Chatto & Windus, 1930.
DESCRIPTION: FIRST EDITION PRESENTATION COPY WITH A 50 LINE MANUSCRIPT POEM. 1 vol., inscribed on the front blank endleaf "For my Darling from her Blue. I suppose you do know-" May 28th. 1930." The following two pages Milne has neatly penned and signed nine original verses, comprising a total of fifty lines, each relating to nine of the characters in his play and the actors who created the roles on the London stage. Bound in the publisher's tan/gray cloth, original printed paper spine label.
CONDITION: Chipped affecting one word, very minor rubbing to head and foot of spine and back corners, inner and outer hinges fine, minor foxing to first and last leafs otherwise internally clean and bright.
PROVENANCE: The present volume was previously part of The Roy Davids Collection of Poetical Manuscripts and was originally acquired by him directly from the Milne family without any intermediate ownership.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The affectionate inscription from Milne to his wife can be explained by the close of Michael and Mary; in the play the character of Michael turns to Mary, mother of their son, David, and proclaims 'I suppose you do know, Mary, that, much as I love him, I love your little finger - your funny little finger, more than all of David?', Mary gently replying 'I think I did know, Michael. You've got a funny little finger too'.
Michael and Mary is considered to be one of Milne's most successful light comedic dramas and is a play about marriage, raising issues regarding law, religion, morality and illegitimacy. The play was originally staged in New York before moving to London where it opened at the St. James's Theatre on 1st February 1930 and starred Herbert Marshall and Edna Best (themselves married from 1928-40, and also the couple to whom Milne dedicated the present book) in the title roles. A year later Michael Balcon produced a film version of the play, retaining the stage cast in their roles. It was the first of Marshall and Best's co-starring talkies and was voted the third best British movie of 1932.
The poem reads in part:
"Michael - Rowe played nightly by a Bart
Steers his way into the heart
Only Michael's Marshall carriage
Pulls him through that risky marriage"
(the role of Michael created by Herbert Marshall)
"Mary - When I hear your "Don't you dare to
Touch me" I can hardly bear to
Sit in silence. I am dying
To burst in upon you, crying
Thank you, Edna, very much. You
Angel, nobody can touch you"
(the role of Mary created by Edna Best)
"David - When all of us are dead and gone
And even Frankie Lawton's old
If actors still come "off" and "on"
And tickets still are bought and sold
"How good"…thee…will say
"That fellow - can't remember nameses -
"Did - you know - in that rotten play
"By what's-it at the old St. James's"
(the role of David created by Frank Lawton)
"Inspector - The burglar, whether British born or foreign
Never escapes Inspector Thatcher (Torin)
If she's a female crook, Inspector Thatcher
Can always be relied upon to catch her"
(the role of the Inspector created by Torin Thatcher)
"Price - A horrible villain was Price, I'm afraid
With his record of marriages hastily made
At a registry office, and vice-less
And, though it sounds odd, I am bound to confess
That in voice and department, in manners and dress
The way that you played him was priceless"
(the role of Harry Price created by D. A. Clarke Smith)