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Letter to Monroe from Robert Penn Warren, 17 March 1960

Date: Mar. 17 1960 | Identifier: 1169-014.1.c
Typescript letter addressed to Monroe from Robert Penn Warren on March 17, 1960. The letter discusses complications surrounding copyright law and the publication date of a play. The complications involve Monroe, Warren, Albert Erskine, the Sewanee Review, and the William Morris Agency. more...
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2495 Redding road, Fairfeild, Connecticut, March 17, 1960

Dear Monroe:

I must apologize about having been so slow in writing this letter, but the days since your wire have been full and confused, with, among other things, a trip to Vermont. When, upon receiving our wire, I passed the word along, it never occurred to me that the situation could become so complicated.

One cause of complication, I discover, lies in the different meaning of the phrase "publication date" for different branches of the business. Whoever told the William Morris Agency that the play was to be published on March 23 was referring to a date set for manufacture, not to the date of release for sale in the book stores.

Another cause of complications is the copyright law regarding Canada, a matter which never has entered into my discussion with andom House, and which emerged later via the legal department of William Morris. I suppose I should have raised the whole question of copyright with William Morris, instead of simply saying to them that I was offering the play to you. But in any case, the agreement with "andom House was that there should be a reasonable margin between your date, which I understood to be early April, and the publication date of the book - publication date taken as date of release = for sale.

This morning Albert Erskine has called me to read a copy of your letter to William Morris. He is as anxious as I am to have matters adjusted to your satisfaction, and we hope that the following arrangement will work out. Books will be shipped out when ready, but the publication sate will be set for April 25, and all books will bear slips stating this state of publication. This is in line with all publisher practice. The actual shipment of books and the official date which controls reviewing and release for sale are, as you know, quite different, and publication date, not the shipping date. And this general chronology will be in the line with cistomery practice in regard to magazine publication. For instance, here is the sequence of events for the section of Faulkner's Mansion which appeared in Esquire. (1)Books were shipped by Random House the middle of October. (2) The publication date was November 20. (3) The issue of Esquire carrying the piece was for December, but it appeared November 15, that is, only five days before the publication date of the book. And the chronology for The Cave in Esquire was, I think, something like that.

Actually, with plays the magazine publisher is in a specially strong position, with or without an official publication date, for publisher plays are arerely, or neber, reviewed. Since there is





no review notice, there is no real competition with the magazine.

I hope this arrangement will be satisfactory to you, and I honestly feel sure that whatever small value the play may have for the Sweance Review will not be impaired by it. I want very much for you to be satisfied on the practical side; but I want even more for you to know that I was not trying to exploit the Review. I am, as you know, proud of my past association with the magazine, and am proud that you liked the play well enough to publish it.

With all the best,

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