Sep 28, 2023 - Sale 2646

Sale 2646 - Lot 47

Price Realized: $ 20,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 10,000 - $ 15,000
(ARCTIC.) Papers of the "Snow Baby" Marie Ahnighito Peary, including her Arctic diary and the manuscript of "Children of the Arctic." 6 items in one box; some with dampstaining and water damage. Various places, 1900-1903 and undated

Additional Details

Marie Ahnighito Peary (1893-1978) was born famous. The daughter of famed Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary (1856-1920) and Josephine Diebitsch Peary (1863-1955), she was born in northern Greenland above the 77th latitude north--the furthest north of any white child. From birth she was dubbed the Snow Baby. In 1900 she returned to Greenland, wintering there with her parents before returning to the United States the following summer.

This collection contains some of the original materials from the children's book "Children of the Arctic, by the Snow Baby and her Mother," published in 1903. The book is credited as a collaboration between mother and daughter, written in the tone of a children's book of the period, interspersed with letters and diary entries by Marie. As it was published when Marie was 10 years old, based on her experiences and diary from the age of 7, she was clearly not the primary author. The papers offered here help us better understand the nature of the collaboration. Included are:

Original manuscript draft of "Children of the Arctic, by the Snow Baby and her Mother." 76 manuscript pages plus additional notes, 8 x 5 inches, written on 28 unbound folding sheets plus 18 pages more or less bound into the remnants of a partial disbound letterbook; minor dampstaining, water damage, and wear. In the hand of Josephine Diebitsch Peary, with substantial revisions in the hand of Robert Peary, and at least one note in the hand of Marie Ahnighito Peary. No place, circa 1903.

The Greenland diary of Marie Ahnighito Peary. [44] manuscript pages. 12mo, disbound; water damage, with first 6 leaves partly adhered, otherwise scarcely affecting legibility. The first 13 pages cover late December 1900 through 1 January 1901, and are more of a narrative than a diary. Several passages are in her mother Josephine's hand. This is followed by 31 pages of regular diary entries dated 1 May to 30 June 1901, entirely in Marie's hand. December 1900 to 1 July 1901.

"Children of the Arctic" often quotes from Marie's diaries, but only one entry is taken from this period. The 6 May diary passage in this manuscript has only a loose resemblance to the book. Marie writes "Mother & I were fast asleep when on the deck camp a jump right over our heads and Mother said 'Charley here comes Mr. Peary.' Charley came to the door and the next thing I knew was a dirty bear skin mitten on the bed, and here was father. Oh what a fine time we had." The published version is completely paraphrased, and much more florid in its prose, reading in part: "A great giant all dressed in bear and deer skins was coming toward the bed asking for his baby, and here was Father really and truly, safe and well, and on his birthday too" (page 87).

Other than this one passage, the diary appears to be entirely unpublished. As the entries vary slightly in handwriting and pencil from day to day, we suspect it was written in Greenland rather than as a later composition. Many of the entries are evocative and charming; this is plausibly the diary of a 7-year-old girl, but an unusually observant and articulate one. 4 May: "Three Eskimos came back from the hunt with one seal. I went for a sleigh ride with the fireman & the second to get ice, ripped my kamiks." On 9 May she has a tiny drawing of an Eskimo boy. 10 May: Father said, you go ashore for me and give this box to Mr. W & the letter to Mr. Stein. In the evening Father showed me how to shoot my bow and arrow." 12 May: I went on deck a little while; & then I played with my paper dolls in the cabin. . . . I have my mittens on." 17 May: "The Eskimo men went away & I rode on Matt [Henson]'s sled and I went to the open water." 25 May: "After dinner I went on the ice with my bows & arrows & played with the Eskimo boys." 17 June: "I went to the edge of the ice with father, where the Eskimo men were loading the four walrus they had killed on the sled, & threw snowballs on the water." 24 June: "I played on the ship with Billybah & the Eskimo boy & girl untill tea. I struck myself in the mouth with a piece of board. I lost a tooth."

Arctic diary entries, 14 to 17 July [1901]. 6 manuscript pages, 10 x 7 1/2 inches on 3 loose sheets, mostly in Marie's hand with edits and long additional passage in her mother's hand. In contrast to the previous diary, much of these entries were published verbatim in "Children of the Arctic," pages 96-104.

Marie Ahnighito Peary. Autograph Letter Signed "Marie" to "Grossy & Tante" (her German-American grandmother and aunt?). 2 pages in red ink, with several pencil edits in her mother's hand, followed by an additional page written from her perspective in her mother's voice and hand, signed "Snowbaby." The letter is numbered "51A" as if intended for insertion into the "Children of the Arctic" manuscript, but neither portion was published. 10 April 1901.

Commonplace book in the hand of Marie Ahnighito Peary. [23] manuscript pages. Includes transcripts of poems by Eugene Field, James Russell Lowell, Phoebe Cary, and others. Undated, circa 1910?

Marie Ahnighito Peary Stafford. "Nicaragua (Rough Notes)." 7 typescript pages with her signed inscription, plus 8 pages of related manuscript notes, plus a carbon copy of the typescript marked up with a later researcher's notes. Her historical essay on her father's Nicaragua canal surveys undertaken from 1884 to 1888 (long before she was born), based in part on his diaries. Cambridge, MA, circa 1930s?

With--3 books by the Pearys:

"Children of the Arctic, by the Snow Baby and her Mother." 119, [1] pages. New York, [1903].

Marie Ahnighito Peary, "Ootah and his Puppy." 64 pages. Boston, 1942.

Marie Ahnighito Peary. "The Snowbaby's Own Story." viii, [4], 304, [3] pages; signed and inscribed by Marie Ahnighito Peary Stafford (her married name), 1954. Philadelphia, [1934].

Provenance: acquired from the estate of a scholar who was researching a biography of Robert Peary (which remains unpublished). See the preceding lot.