The George R. Stewart biography is not selling in large numbers. It’s almost literally “The Book A Month Club” in terms of sales. But it is having an influence.
A few weeks ago Ross B. messaged to say that he was a relative of George R. Stewart – He’s a Wilson on his maternal side, and GRS’s mother was a Wilson – mentioned that his family has a 16mm silent film of the Wilsons and the Stewart males shot in Pasadena in 1929, probably at the Stewart home on Jackson Street — and asked if I would like a copy? Of course! His son, a video editor in Hollywood, cut the GRS footage from a longer film, professionally titled it, and put it on DVD. Ross was kind enough to send DVDs to the Bancroft, to me; and eventually, to the Stewart and Evenson families. It is an exceptional historical document. To my knowledge it is the only film of GRS. Seeing that film was worth writing the book.
A couple of weeks after hearing from Ross, I received an email from Dr. Junlin of the University of Northern Illinois. She found my book in the library (so we know at least one library bought a copy), and tracked me down through this blog to say that she is working with the most prestigious publisher in China to do a Chinese edition of Names On The Land. (Junlin would translate the work.) She asked if I could connect her with the Stewart family, particularly to negotiate copyright for China. I could, and did, and so that project is underway.
Thus, even a book that sells only a few copies can have its influence. It depends on where it sells, and who reads it, and McFarland is very careful to sell to the market which will place the book in hands like Ross’s and Junlin’s. It is very satisfying to see the results of their careful marketing and fine publishing.
The film now resides in the Bancroft, in very good company — the George Rippey Stewart, Jr, Papers; the Mark Twain Papers; and the letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush which began the Lewis and Clark Expedition are also in the Bancroft.