Philadelphia: David McKay, 1944. First edition. Original illustrated paper boards (6 5/8 inches tall), colored endpapers, original dust jacket. Slight wear to corners and spine ends, short closed tears to lower spine and upper back panel. A near-fine copy. Item #1503
THE INSPIRATION FOR AN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS CLASSIC
First obtainable edition of Philip Van Doren Stern's classic story of Christmas in wartime America—the inspiration for director Frank Capra's film It's a Wonderful Life. An excellent example, complete as published with the original dust jacket.
Philip Van Doren Stern worked on this short story (with an obvious debt to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol) for several years. He finally completed it in December 1943 but failed to find a publisher, so he arranged for a modest private printing in wrappers. The story was acquired and published by David McKay of Philadelphia in 1944—illustrated throughout by Rafaello Busoni with a frontispiece, an additional full-page plate, and numerous marginal sketches, all printed in blue. Eventually the story was purchased by David Hempstead at RKO Pictures before the project passed to Frank Capra's production company. A screenplay, changing George Pratt's name to George Bailey, was adapted by Capra into the 1946 movie It's a Wonderful Life. The film starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reid and was nominated for five Academy Awards. It has been recognized as one of the 100 best American films ever made. A vintage piece of mid-century Americana.