Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Squabble over Buck Manuscript

Back in June I noted the rediscovery of the long-lost hand-corrected typescript of Pearl Buck's The Good Earth (which prosecutors said had been, ahem, "inappropriately obtained" from Buck's home by an employee back in the '60s). It's been a little over a month, and the battles for control of the manuscript are now in full swing, as Maryclaire Dale reports for the AP.

Pearl S. Buck International, a nonprofit foundation located at Buck's farmhouse in Pennsylvania, has apparently made an agreement with Buck's estate "to display it [the typescript] for several months later this year while the children retained ownership, according to family lawyer Peter Hearn."

Not so fast, says the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Lawyers for the birthplace claim that Buck's manuscripts were all left to that foundation in a 1970 legal affidavit filed two weeks after Buck's death in 1973. In that document, Buck "lists scores of documents she was giving to the birthplace, including " 'The Good Earth' manuscript, the exact location of which is unknown."

Steve Hunter, a lawyer representing the birthplace, says he approached U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan about the document last month, only to find out that the Attorney's office "no longer had it" (the AP article doesn't say, but presumably it's been handed over to the Buck estate).

If the 1970 affidavit holds up, this case seems fairly cut and dry to me, but of course as we know things are not always what they seem. I'll follow up on this as I can.

[h/t GalleyCat]