Guide to the Morris Leopold Ernst Novel Manuscript, 1944
Collection number: MS 238
About Morris Leopold Ernst
Born in Uniontown, Alabama on Aug. 23, 1888 to a Czech-born father and German mother,
Morris Leopold Ernst (1888–1976) was an American lawyer and co-founder of the
American Civil Liberties Union. In 1933, on behalf of Random House he successfully
defended James Joyce’s novel Ulysses against
obscenity charges, leading to its distribution in the U.S. He won similar cases on
behalf of Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness and
Arthur Schnitzler’s Casanova’s Homecoming. In 1937,
as attorney for the American Newspaper Guild, he persuaded the Supreme Court to
uphold the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act (the Wagner Act) as
applied to the press, establishing the right of media employees to organize labor
Ernst was a strong supporter of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. In 1940, as head of the
ACLU, he agreed to bar communists from employment there and even discouraged their
membership, basing his position on a distinction between the rights of the
individual and the rights of groups. He counted Justice Louis Brandeis as a close
friend and later had close personal relationships with Presidents Franklin Roosevelt
and Harry Truman and New York Governor Herbert Lehman. Besides politicians, he also
was friendly with many cultural icons, such as Edna Ferber, E. B. White, Groucho
Marx, Compton Mackenzie, Al Capp, Charles Addams, Grandma Moses, Heywood Broun, and
Margaret Bourke White. Ernst was married twice, in 1912 to Susan Leerburger, with
whom he had a son who died in infancy and a daughter. Susan died in 1922. In 1923 he
married Margaret Samuels and together they had a son and a daughter and five
grandchildren. Margaret died in 1964. Ernst kept a summer home on Nantucket and
enjoyed sailing small boats. He died at home in New York City on May 21, 1976.
About the Morris Leopold Ernst Novel Manuscript "So Far So Good"
The manuscript of So Far So Good is the second typed
draft (although this information is scored out on the title page) and dates from
1944. In the original typed version of the draft this is the title that was used,
but this was changed to The Best is Yet on the "Table
of Contents" page. The novel was eventually published under the title So Far So Good in 1948.
The draft runs to 532 pages and, according to a bookplate included with it, was
donated to the University of New Hampshire Library by the residents of Scott Hall on
the campus who apparently contributed to the war effort by either purchasing the
manuscript or by selling a large number of war bonds. Soon after the entry of the
United States into World War II, various means of finding ways to help finance the
War on the “grass-roots” level were sought. An ingenious way of selling some bonds
was devised by a committee titled the National Book and Author War Bond Committee.
The noted writer, Mark Van Doren, was chair of this Committee. The Committee’s aim
was to solicit as many manuscripts (in some cases illustrations) from famous
literary individuals with the purpose of either auctioning them to the highest
bidder, or offering them as gifts to institutions or groups who sold the greatest
amount of bonds. Apparently, in many instances the Committee worked through some of
the local public libraries either for publicity purposes or for similar aid. It is
also possible that towards the end of the War, some manuscripts which were not
disposed of were given as gifts to various libraries. It is not known for sure
exactly what plan was followed in making these gifts.
This collection is open.
Copyright is retained by the authors of these papers, or their descendants, as
stipulated by United States copyright law.
Morris Ernst Novel Manuscript, MS 238, Milne Special Collections and Archives,
University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.
Donation: Scott Hall, UNH campus (Accession number: 2011.07; originally 8695)
|Folder 1||pp. 1-106|
|Folder 2||pp. 107-225|
|Folder 3||pp. 226-314|
|Folder 4||pp. 315-399|
|Folder 5||pp. 400-532|