Monday, July 25, 2016

Hendricks House Omoo

Hershel Parker makes great use of Harrison Hayford's work on the Hendricks House Omoo in the first volume of Herman Melville: A Biography.
"For separating fact from fiction in Omoo I rely primarily on the documents Hayford provided me (most of which he printed in the Hendricks House Omoo)...." --Herman Melville: A Biography
Likewise Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, in her introduction to the Penguin edition of Omoo, heartily commends the Hendricks House edition:
"Hayford's work for the Hendricks House edition remains the seminal publication on Omoo...." --Penguin Omoo 
As the Penguin editor explains, "page proofs for the Hendricks House edition were completed in 1957, but the book was not published until 1969."

Despite generous citations by distinguished former students of Harrison Hayford, and by Canadian scholar Gordon Roper in the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Omoo, the classic Hendricks House edition of Melville's Omoo by Hayford and (did you know?) Walter Blair is not so well known as it should be.

The hard-to-find Hendricks House Moby-Dick is digitized in the Hathi Trust Digital Library. I was hoping to find the Hendricks House Omoo there too, but no dice. Yet.

Today's search at abebooks turns up just one ex-library copy at Easy Chair Books. I have one already so this one's yours. Another more expensive, and more tempting volume is the "excellent, collectible copy" offered for sale via Biblio by Rutter's Rarities. Inscribed by Harrison Hayford "to a fellow book rat." Yikes! It might be gone by the time you read this.

For now, here are two pages of Explanatory Notes from the copy I already own. Several of Hayford's notes pertain to the figure of Lem Hardy in Omoo.

Hendricks House Omoo, pages 354-5
Hendricks House Omoo, pages 356-7


  1. shows some other Hendricks copies available!,mBtd62,v5W43zc_1469546325_1:442:941&bq=author%3Dherman%2520melville%26title%3Domoo%2520a%2520narrative%2520of%2520adventures%2520in%2520the%2520south%2520seas

  2. Good news, thank you.

  3. I have several of the Hendricks House Melville books(but not Omoo)and the notes are an education in themselves, just a hint at how deeply self-educated Melville was.

    1. Did they ever publish a Hendricks House edition of Typee? It seems strange to publish editions of Omoo and Pierre without also doing Typee, but I cannot find any record of it

    2. Great question thanks! No. Hendricks House Omoo in 1969 appeared last and by that time Northwestern-Newberry had kicked off The Writings of Herman Melville series with Typee, published in January 1968.