The Second Edition of Saint Katy the Virgin

And you thought there was only one.

Au contraire, mon amour.

We know, of course, that the first edition of this short story was published in 1936 by Covici Friede as a Christmas greeting from the publisher and author.  That book was one of only 199 numbered copies signed by John Steinbeck.  It was printed on hand-made Perusia paper by the Golden Eagle Press in Mt. Vernon, New York.  It was not illustrated.  It is cited as Goldstone & Payne A6 in the Steinbeck bibliography and as item No. 56 in Bradford Morrow’s legendary 1980 catalogue.  Saint Katy, a short story about a pig, was later part of Steinbeck’s short story collection, The Long Valley, which Viking published in 1938.

So what’s this business about a second edition?  I must admit that it was news to me, too, and I’ve been collecting Steinbeck’s books for 45 years, but there was indeed a second edition.  It was produced by Ritchie Donaghue, then a third-year art student at Sheridan College of Applied Arts and Technology in Ontario, Canada.  He produced only five copies of the book, none of which were for sale.  Donaghue both designed and illustrated the book.  He also bound them himself.  This was in 1981.  The limitation of five copies was in order to satisfy Canadian copyright laws, according to Donaghue.  His book is a hardcover with a dust jacket.  One of his illustrations of Saint Katy adorns the front panel of the dust jacket.  There are several other color silk-screen illustrations by Donaghue.  He gave one of these books to his mother, and another to a sister.  An uncle received one, and he kept one for himself.  One must have escaped, and it is now clutched by my gnarly paws.

I found two slight flaws.  There is a typo wherein “wicked” is spelled “wicket,” and quotation marks are missing in one sentence, but these are minor.  The illustrations complement the story quite well as both are charming, to be sure.

“I really like Steinbeck,” Donaghue said in an interview.  He said that his father was “a working man” and maybe that’s why he was attracted to his work.  But why this story?  It was a “technical” decision, according to Donague, because he had to work within the confines of a 16-page signature which limited his selection of stories that would fit these parameters.  The project was for an arts and illustration class at Sheridan College which he loved for a number of reasons.  His teacher allowed him to choose his own project.  There were only six other students in his class which meant that he had access to his teacher for six hours per week for the full term.  He described his teacher as “brilliant,” and said that he was a mentor.  In this class he learned “the anatomy of a book.  You had to do everything.”

Donague went on to teaching art and graphic design for many years.  In a way, he’s still at it now.  He designs and builds houses where he lives in Canada.  Will he or any family member who currently owns one of the other four copies let it go?  What do you think?


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One response to “The Second Edition of Saint Katy the Virgin

  1. Pingback: John Steinbeck, "Saint Katy the Virgin" - I Read A Short Story Today

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