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When I was 7 years old in 1972, as I was waiting in the book section of a store for my parents to do their shopping, I pulled a Thornton W. Burgess children's book from the shelf and started reading it. When my parents came to collect me, I asked them if I could have it, and though money was very tight for them at the time, I must have been very earnest because they agreed. I finished reading it that day -- I was a voracious young reader -- and asked for more. They bought what they could afford, and Burgess was my favorite author then. My younger siblings enjoyed his books too.
A couple years ago, when my kids were old enough that I thought they might enjoy having Burgess read to them, I asked Mom about the old Burgess books and she gave me what survived of them after much love from me and my siblings and from a set of nephews too. My kids enjoyed them and I started buying up more of them, and soon started making sure to get the editions with the best Harrison Cady illustrations.
On reading the Burgess bibliographies by Wayne W. Wright and Michael W. Dowhan, Jr., I learned that the books had originally been serialized in newspapers, and it appeared to me that only around 10% or so of the over 15,000 newspaper installments had been published in book form. I also learned from those bibliographies that the vast majority of those newspaper installments had an illustration by Burgess' wonderful illustrator, Harrison Cady. I started borrowing microfilm of the old New York Globe newspapers from the Library of Congress through my local library, and scanning the Burgess newspaper installments.
It's been slow going, and very tedious, but when I was reading "The Adventures of Sammy Jay" to my kids, and came to the place in chapter 21 where Sammy Jay remembers a previous incident not in the book, my kids asked me when that happened. I recognized the incident as one that had been in newspapers August 11 - 23, 1913. They wanted to interrupt the reading of Sammy Jay to read those newspaper installments, so we did. I believe they must be the first kids to have that episode read to them since 1913.
I also discovered that three chapters had been removed from "The Adventures of Old Man Coyote". Reading the three missing chapters in the newspapers, I could imagine no reason for their removal other than space constraints. So I made the restored version of Coyote now available on Amazon.
It looks like the same is probably true of several other books, though in some cases I won't know for sure for years, at the very slow rate I'm able to get the microfilm rolls from the Library of Congress. It's impossible to be sure whether a given day's newspaper installment is a lost chapter in one of the book's storylines, or about something else, until I scan it and read it. Reading it is often no easy task because the newspapers were over 40 years old and in poor condition when the microfilm was made. The original newspapers themselves have not survived.
After Coyote, I made the restored version of Paddy now available on Amazon. It restores 10 chapters, which makes the book almost 50% longer, and much better. I especially love the new ending. Also, the original newspaper illustrations for Paddy were by longtime Burgess illustrator Harrison Cady, one per chapter. The restored version includes those illustrations.
Coming up next is a restored "The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel" with 8 lost chapters restored. A restored "The Adventures of Buster Bear" is coming up soon too. Also look for "The Lost Short Books of Thornton W. Burgess, Volume 1" (2 or 3 stories per volume, none ever published in book form before), "The Lost Short Stories of Thornton W. Burgess, Volume 1" (stories of about 3 - 9 chapters each, none ever published in book form before), and "The Lost Flash Fiction of Thornton W. Burgess, Volume 1" (stories of 1 or 2 chapters each, none ever published in book form before).
It's a lot of fun seeing these wonderful old stories and illustrations that have been virtually inaccessable and unknown for a century, gratifying to see how they improve the books from which they had been excluded, and exciting to put them back in front of readers after all these years. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.