Jackie Robinson 70th anniversary auction to benefit JRF ending April 29
Before he became a literary sensation for his novel “Roots” in 1977, Alex Haley was known as one of the most provocative and inquisitive journalists of the post-war era. Beginning with his groundbreaking 1962 Playboy interview with Miles Davis, Haley carved out a reputation as a writer who was not afraid to confront racial issues head on, related in a style that was both fresh and bold. It was this well-deserved reputation that brought Alex Haley to the man who would be the subject of his first book: Malcolm X.
Beginning in 1963, Haley conducted more than 50 one-on-one interviews with the controversial Civil Rights activist, covering every facet of his life, from his criminal beginnings to the Nation of Islam through his recent conversion to Sunni Islam. At first Haley had trouble coaxing personal stories from his subject, but eventually a narrative was formed through which Malcolm X’s voice flowed freely. The style of the book, billed as an “autobiography as told to Alex Haley," was fresh and fast paced, just the style needed for the turbulent mid-1960’s. The book, called “The Autobiography of Malcolm X," was almost completed when the subject was gunned down on February 21, 1965. Doubleday, the original publisher, quickly cancelled the contract but Grove Press stepped in. In two years 400,000 copies had been sold, and six million by 1977. Director Spike Lee based his 1992 movie “Malcolm X” on Haley’s book and subsequent sales propelled “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list.
Offered here are Alex Haley’s hand written notes for the book’s penultimate section — the Epilog — the assassination of Malcolm X. In 14 pages, torn from a small, spiral bound notebook, Haley outlines Malcolm X’s last day, beginning with his arrival at the Audubon Ballroom. The notes include personal recollections by participants on that fateful day and a blow by blow account of the shooting and its aftermath. The notes are in Haley’s hand, written in blue ballpoint with a journalist’s steady but hurried hand. It appears that Haley crossed out passages with a black pen stroke as he transcribed them in his main manuscript. As they were torn from a notebook, the top edges of the pages are torn from their removal from the spiral binding. As working notes, the pages show some wear from use, with light toning from age, but otherwise are fully legible and well preserved. The archive comes with two 5 x 7 inch photographs, one of Haley, and the other of Malcolm X, the subject of the autobiography that would propel him to literary stardom.
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