Chicago: Inter-State Book Company, 1903.
First Edition. Hardcover. This satirical parody is a response to the radical, openly bisexual, avowed feminist, nineteen-year-old Mary MacLane's wildly bestselling 1902 memoir The Story of Mary MacLane, which sold over one hundred thousand copies in its first month of publication alone. One of several books, out of innumerable articles and even a vaudeville act, which lampooned the book and its author, this is the only attributed to a fellow woman author, as recently revealed by scholar Michael R. Brown in his introduction to Mary in the Press: Miss MacLane and the Yellow Papers (2013). On its publication, The Story of Mary MacLane sparked immediate controversy, from heated censure and dismissal from male critics to fanatic approval from schoolgirls across the country. Maclane's scandalously frank, direct, and self-aware writing about topics such as self-love, her sexual attraction to other women, her dissatisfaction with daily life in Butte, Montana, and her wish to marry the Devil helped usher in the confessional movement in autobiographical writing, and now, nearly 120 years later, has inspired Emily M. Danforth's gothic lesbian horror novel Plain Bad Heroines. In The Devil's Letters to Mary MacLane, MacLane gets her wish, to be used and seduced by the Devil. Here, a 34-year old doctor’s wife of Cripple Creek, Colorado, Sarah H. McKown defends her conventional religiosity and traditional morality by masquerading as the Devil, who she even has cross-dress and infiltrate a women's club meeting (which MacLane mocks in her memoir). This is an admittedly well-worn but complete presumed first printing of this unique and provocative satirical response to the work of Mary MacLane.
7 3/4" X 5". 217pp. Bounc in yellow cloth over boards, with devil stamped in red and black to upper board with a flurry of letters in black, sealed in red, beside him, and upper board and spine lettered in black. Heavy wear to binding, with heavy soiling to cloth, scattered rubbing, corners turned in, small tears to fraying head and tail of spine, and small stain to rear board. Front hinge stiff, likely from a glue repair. Binding is firm and sound. Pages are occasionally very faintly foxed, else unmarked. Fair. Item #11687