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    An early manuscript of Roots, chapter 2

    Alex Haley Archive, including an early typed manuscript of chapter two of Roots, an inscribed copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and 19 correspondences (17 letters, 1 postcard, and one telegram, all dated 1965-1983) containing 19 signatures. Haley wrote almost all of these letters to Diane Grieco, his assistant during the late 1960s, when he began writing Roots: The Saga of an American Family. This collection has been well cared for throughout the years.

    The early typed manuscript of chapter two of Roots consists of twenty-four pages on yellow paper with the heading "2nd chapter. rewrite." It has been confirmed that Alex Haley typed this manuscript. It does not contain handwritten annotations, but it does have typed strikethroughs. It is stapled in the top left corner. In an included typed letter signed and dated October 2, 1968, Haley adds a holograph post script asking if Ms. Grieco would get "a couple more reams of this paper-canary, mimeograph" -- the same paper he used to type this chapter.

    A copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York: Grove Press, 1965) is included inscribed by Haley, who has written in his signature green felt ink, "1968, To Diane, whom as a secretary I genuinely don't know what I'd do without; and whom, as my friend, is reciprocally both true, and close! My love, [signed] Alex." Only minor wear to the dust jacket; minor tears on back of dust jacket.

    Most of the 17 letters are on Alex Haley's personal stationery with transmittal envelopes and almost all 19 pieces of correspondence (including the postcard and telegram) are addressed to Diane Grieco. Many topics are covered: some give writing advice and work instructions to Ms. Grieco, while others offer news about his numerous speaking engagements and travels.

    According to the earliest of these letters (February 13, 1965), Haley was interested in cultivating Ms. Grieco's writing talent. Haley, who had known the Grieco family for years, respected her industriousness, talent, dependability, and honesty, among other qualities, considering himself a "fan of Diane's" (letter dated April 2, 1968). In several letters, he offers her personalized, thoughtful advice on how to "start preparing, developing yourself to become one day a professional writer" (May 3, 1966), even passing on a writing opportunity to her (September 26, 1966). In 1968, Haley served briefly as a writer-in-residence at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, where he took advantage of the inspiring, quite atmosphere of the university to begin writing Roots. In a letter dated February 28, 1968, on Hamilton College stationery, Haley offers many suggestions for the improvement of writing skills to Ms. Grieco. (Two letters in this collections are on Hamilton College stationery.)

    In a two-page autograph letter signed dated April 13 [1966], Haley writes about an experience backstage at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia with Sammy Davis Jr. just before Davis took the stage. The author happened to mention that Diane Grieco would love to be here, to which Davis replied, "We'll send her a song, man." When Davis took the stage, Haley watched as Davis whispered something to the conductor. From backstage, a surprised and pleased Haley "recognized the opening bars-DIANE." In this letter, Haley also makes references to a project he was working on at the time-"the Tony Curtis movie deal." Haley became well-known in the 1960s for conducting important interviews for Playboy magazine, such as those with Miles Davis and Martin Luther King Jr. In an undated ALS, he writes that "Playboy keeps calling."

    On March 30, 1967, Haley sent Ms. Grieco a fold-out pamphlet from the L'Hotel George V in Paris which detailed the many amenities of the sophisticated hotel. At the end, he humorously pens in green felt, "Yes, it does offer all this, indeed-but they don't mention the guy in the next room who snores so loudly he can be heard through the walls! Best! [Signed] Alex."

    Among the correspondence are four typed letters (three are signed) assigning tasks to Ms. Grieco. These letters are on the same yellow paper as the Roots manuscript of chapter two. One is undated and the other three are dated January 1, 1968, October 2, 1968, and March 6, 1969. In these, Haley writes of using a Dictaphone when away from his office. One of the tasks assigned his assistant was to transcribe those tapes.

    In two letters written after Ms. Grieco no longer worked for Haley, the author writes to catch up. On April 23, 1975, he reports that Roots "has been, of course, the main thing" in his life. He was, he wrote, "within weeks of finishing. . . . Not too many weeks ago, I was working with notes that you'd prepared for me, from tapes, up there in that lovely studio on Hamilton College hill." The author was also very busy with "the filming of Roots for TV." He included with that letter a facsimile of a page from TV Guide, dated January 22, 1975, about the upcoming mini-series, on which he has written, "Diane, it's going to be a busy time filming Roots! [Signed] Alex." This facsimile is included in this archive. In the final letter of this collection dated June 18, 1983, Haley reports about "interim things" and transmits a facsimile of a Writer's Digest article entitled, "The Roots of Alex Haley's Writing Career" (1980) on which he has inscribed a short note with his signature.

    Also included is a Roots poster (17" x 22") promoting the ABC twelve-hour mini-series which aired in 1977. With folds.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    3rd Thursday
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