Thursday, December 19, 2019

Middy and Whitney Darrow's Copy of Consenting Adults by Peter De Vries

Prolific New Yorker writer and humorist Peter De Vries (1910-1993) wrote twenty-three novels including Consenting Adults or The Duchess Will Be Furious published in 1980. A copy of this book inscribed to "Middy and Whitney" went to auction in 2013 with a reasonable estimate of $70-$200. It sold for only $15. What went wrong?

For one thing, the auction house, National Book Auctions of Freeville, New York, failed to identify one of the recipients as New Yorker cartoonist Whitney Darrow, Jr. (1909-1999)—the other is the cartoonist's wife Mildred or Middy. So this is a book presented by one New Yorker luminary to another, and to his wife. That alone should make it an object of considerable interest to students of the magazine and of twentieth-century arts and letters...that is, if they know about it. Lots offered for sale in some of the smaller auction houses have been known to fly under the radar. That may have been the case here.

The other problem, and in all likelihood the more serious issue, is that De Vries' name isn't remembered by all that many people today. His books all went out of print in his lifetime and only a very few are back in print now. 

Peter De Vries
Google Books N-Gram Viewer
Some American Humorists


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