["Lead Belly"] Ledbetter, Huddie William. (1888 - 1949) [Lomax, John A. and Alan; editors. ]
Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly - INSCRIBED PRESENTATION COPY TO PHOTOGRAPHER BEN ZELLER
New York: The Macmillan Company. 1936.
Frontispiece portrait. xiv, 242 pages. 4to, publisher's cloth, moderate soiling and wear, backstrip sunned; light finger-soiling to contents; signed and inscribed on front free endpaper "To my friend Ben Zeller, Huddie Ledbetter." Signed first edition of the book which brought blues and folk musician Huddie Ledbetter to fame, published just two years after his release from prison and including transcriptions of many of his songs. Laid in are an original 5 1/2 x 4 1/4-inch photograph of Leadbelly captioned by photographer Ben Zeller on verso, New York University, 1 March 1936; and a sheet bearing 5 newspaper clippings on Leadbelly, 1935-36.
Father-and-son folklorists John and Alan Lomax discovered Ledbetter at Louisiana's Angola Prison Farm in the summer of 1933. They recorded the 12-string guitarist—then serving a four-year sentence for attempted homicide—and, deeply impressed, they returned a year later with even better equipment to record hundreds of his songs. Upon his release in 1934, Ledbetter helped the Lomaxes with their folk song collecting around the South, and then later assisted them with recording songs and compiling interviews for their forthcoming book, Negro Folk Songs As Sung by Lead Belly. Autographic material from Leadbelly remains extremely scarce.
Culture, Ethnicity & Gender