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1916, Eyes

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17.  Ma Cinderella 


Ma Cinderella, by Harold Bell Wright, dust jacket

First Edition

Harper and Brothers, 1932, dark burgundy cloth cover, gold letters, "First Edition/G-G."  White dust jacket with pastel color illustration by Henry Pitz.

Total sales: 27,451

List of Editions    Value Guide

Click below to enlarge photos of title page, copyright page and dedication:

  


Background

Though it had been many years since Harold Bell Wright lived in the Ozarks, he returns in this story to the settings that sold so many books for him in earlier years.

Sales

From Wright's refusal to sell the movie rights to Ma Cinderella for a low price (he never sold it), it is clear that he thought of this as one of his better stories, but its sales were a bitter disappointment for him. Sales of his three previous titles (Long Ago Told, Exit and The Devil's Highway) totaled only 63,000, with royalties of $15,500 -- a far cry from the previous three titles with sales of over 500,000 and royalties of nearly $150,000. Even earlier, he had often seen three books sell nearly three million copies. But Wright's recent books had not been like the earlier ones. Instead of simple mountain folk with simple values, his three most recent books included a collection of Indian tales (Long Ago Told), a convoluted adaptation of a play (Exit), and a book of science fiction (The Devil's Highway). In 1931, Wright's total book royalties amounted to $924.20.

With Ma Cinderella, Wright's 17th book, he hoped to bring back the magic of the Ozarks and replenish his bank account. Unfortunately, in 1932 the United States was deep in the Great Depression. People standing in line for soup were not likely to buy a book. Nevertheless, Harper and Brothers agreed to become his new publisher and advanced Wright $10,000 against his expected royalties on Ma Cinderella. The book, published September 12, 1932, sold for $2 and Wright's royalty was 15%, or 30 cents per copy. The $10,000 advance assumed sales of at least 33,000 copies. But by December 31, American sales totaled only about 12,000 copies and royalties totaled only $3752.93. In March 1934 Wright received a letter from Harpers, asking him to pay back the unearned royalties in the amount of  $6,247.07. Wright wrote the check but cautioned Harpers not to try to deposit the check because it would bounce until he received money from Cosmopolitan magazine for the serialization of To My Sons.

Wright added, "As for advances on the future books----we will just forget that. There will never be advance royalties on another Wright book."

Eventually, including reprints and foreign editions, 27,451 copies of Ma Cinderella were sold, but since reprints and foreign editions produced very small royalties, Wright's total royalties climbed to only $3,795.44.

Collecting

Ma Cinderella is by far the most common of the "furious five" rare books by Harold Bell Wright. Dust jackets are hard to find. All American first editions are published by Harper & Brothers and they look exactly like the photos at the top of this page. Harpers also printed a second edition, which is much less common than the first edition. For details, click on List of Editions. Musson also produced a Canadian first edition. Reprints were produced by A.L. Burt and by Grosset and Dunlap, and in the 1990s Yestermorrow produced reprints for Barbara Berry's Bookshop. These Yestermorrow copies show up frequently on eBay.

Review of Book by Dr. Joyce Kinkead  Copyright 1979 by Joyce Kinkead.  Used by Permission

        Wright's sixteenth novel, Ma Cinderella, is also set in the Ozarks, but this novel has more depth and less sentimentality than The Re-Creation of Brian Kent.  The novel's title is a poor choice, but for the character to whom it refers, it is a good description.  The Cinderella of the story is Ann Hasket, a widow four times, who rules her household and the area with a firm hand, so much so, that she has become almost a legendary figure.  Continue >>>

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This Harold Bell Wright web site is written and produced by Gerry Chudleigh with the help of many friends.
Copyright 2000-February, 2012 by Gerry Chudleigh
Last updated 02/10/12