“I couldn’t help it. I happen to have been born to do it.

I am sure that I would have been a rotten failure doing anything else.”

~ Ends Of The Earth ~

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Collecting Roy Chapman Andrews Part 4

         Barkan dune at Tugrikin Shire, Outer Mongolia.  By Clive Coy

   During the late twenties field work in Mongolia became dangerous, and civil war combined with the overt actions of  Imperial Japan within China made further exploration impossible.  With great reluctance the members of the 1930 field season returned home to the United States certain they would never be able to return.  Andrews remained behind at the expeditions headquarters in Peking, spending his time paying the expeditions accounts, selling the camel caravan, vehicles and equipment.  It was during this period that Yvette divorced Andrews, citing abandonment. Civil war and banditry had made it unsafe for Yvette and her two young sons  to follow Andrews into the field after 1920.  Andrews had  allowed himself to become consumed by the needs of the expedition and had lost  both emotional and physical contact with his family.
            During a cold and solitary Peking winter Andrews finished what is arguably the single greatest undertaking of his writing career; The New Conquest Of Central Asia.  Published as volume one, it was third in a series that  were originally conceived as a twelve volume set of which only seven were ever published. 

First Edition.  1932.  In original dust jacket

Now highly prized by collectors, the bulk of the imposing seven pound volume is the official narrative of the expeditions that gives a comprehensive review of the accomplishments as a whole, and reviews problems raised by their discoveries. The photographs are numerous, and the panoramic fold out plates are of such high quality that they would cost a fortune to reproduce today.  So comprehensive and wide ranging was the work of the C.A.E. that the seven completed volumes became standard works on the geology, recent animals, fish, and palaeontology of Mongolia and China.  Never before had an American non-military overseas expedition made so many  major discoveries in so short a time.  The most important  scientific discoveries were quickly published by Osborn, Matthew, and Granger.  However, the enormous collections outran the available research and publication facilities of the Museum and even now, eighty-one years later, their preparation and study are ongoing. 
            Andrews returned to New York; and after more than 23 years of continual field work his exploring days were over.    On February 21, 1935, he married Wilhelmina [“Billy”] Anderson Christmas, and Andrews began to rebuild his life in busy, noisy New York.    
Andrews and 'Billy' in Seattle, boarding the train to New York
upon returning from Honeymoon trip to Asia.  1936.

Andrews capped his career at the American Museum of Natural History as vice-director [1931 - 34] and director [1935 - 42].   In addition to his new museum duties, he continued to promote the need for exploration in  numerous popular articles, and  books; with Ends Of The Earth, his first autobiography, printed in serial form by Saturday Evening Post prior to being released by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.  Trying his hand at radio, Andrews also presented a popular series entitled “New Horizons” on the Columbia Network during the late 1930’s.  Andrews had contributed to exploring and filling in the last “unknown” corners of the globe, and  he realised that exploration of the future would be very different from that of his own youth. 

Andrews as Director of AMNH, beneath portrait of his patron, mentor and friend, Henry Fairfield Osborn.

            As early as 1932, Andrews observed;  “To study these little-known areas, to reveal the history of their making and interpret that history to the world today, to learn what they can give in education, culture and for human welfare - that is the exploration of the future!”. Consequently, he began to write books  specifically for young readers in the hope that it would encourage them to pick up the torch .  This Business Of Exploring, and Exploring With Andrews  influenced a generation of young readers, some of  whom became today’s leading palaeontologists and zoologists.  

First Edition.  G. P. Putnam's Sons.  1935

First Edition.  G. P. Putnam's Sons.  1938.

            Inevitably, the steady diet of routine administration irked  Andrews, who had always preferred outside to indoors,  and a  tent to a boardroom.  During the late 30’s and early 40’s the museum faced hard times caused by the national economic crisis, low public attendance, and a sharp decline in philanthropic donations.  Bean-counting museum administrators questioned Andrews’ abilities to guide the ailing museum through the hard economic times, even going as far as to call for Andrews’ dismissal.  Hurt and disheartened; wishing to close his career at the museum with honour and dignity;  Andrews chose to resign,  and at the end of 1941, although still robust and only 57, he retired.
            Andrews lived  for a time in Connecticut, moved later to Arizona, and eventually settled in Carmel, California.  In retirement he wrote another 13 best-selling books that include his second autobiography, Under A Lucky Star, and two fictional accounts of his early exploration days, Quest In The Desert, and Quest Of The Snow Leopard.  

First Edition.  Viking Press. 1943.

Reprint.  Blue Ribbon Books. 1945.

Aimed at young readers the two novels drew on his experiences leading expeditions; and introduce the hero of both books,  Jack Benton, a character based loosely on Andrews himself.  The action packed novels cleverly instruct young readers on what it takes to put an expedition into the field, from purchasing supplies to dealing with bandits. 

First Edition.  The Viking Press. 1950

First Edition.  The Viking Press. 1955.

            Much loved and now difficult to find in even reasonable condition are Andrews’ three books for the All About series by Random House;  All About Dinosaurs, All About Whales, and All About Strange Beasts Of The Past.  Authoritative children’s books on prehistoric animals were rare prior to the 1950’s, and this trio of books illustrated by the talented Thomas Voter, and Matthew Kalmenoff,  influenced school science reports and the daydreams of several generations of  young readers. 

First Edition.  Random House. 1953

First Edition.  Random House.  1954.

First Edition.  Random House. 1956

            Andrews also tried his hand at fiction for adults; most notably  Heart Of Asia, a collection of twelve tales of life in Asia.  Andrews asserted that the ripping yarns were true as he experienced them or were told to him by others.  Among the tales were a dog who lived for vengeance; the predations of a phantom Blue Tiger; and a bandit who paid a debt with the hearts of his wife and child. 

 First Edition.  Duell, Sloan & Pearce.  1951.