Le petit prince : [New York and Asharoken] : autograph manuscript, [1942 ca. July-Oct.].

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MA 2592
Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de, 1900-1944.
[1942 ca. July-Oct.].
Purchased on the Elisabeth Ball Fund, 1968.
Curatorial Comments: 

The Morgan holds the original manuscript and art for one of the world's most widely read and cherished books, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince (1943). In 1942, at the height of the Second World War, Saint-Exupéry crafted a tale about an interstellar traveler in search of friendship and understanding. The manuscript of The Little Prince is an extraordinary physical record of the author's creative labor. Saint-Exupéry often wrote late into the night, a cigarette in his mouth and a cup of coffee or tea on hand. He thrived on the responses of those he trusted, thinking nothing of calling a friend at two in the morning to read a few pages aloud.
Saint-Exupéry generally produced multiple drafts of a single chapter, refining dialogue, wording, and tone. But he also deleted entire passages and episodes, paring the text to its essential elements. He made further revisions, not represented in the Morgan drafts, before submitting the text to his publisher. Saint-Exupéry wrote much of The Little Prince in a house that he and his wife, Consuelo, had rented on the north shore of Long Island during summer 1942. But he also spent many hours writing at the Upper East Side apartment of his friend and lover Silvia Hamilton (later Reinhardt), with her black poodle as a model for the sheep and a mop-top doll standing in for the title character. As he prepared to leave the city to return to wartime service, Saint-Exupéry appeared at Hamilton's door wearing an ill-fitting military uniform. She later recalled that he said, "I'd like to give you something splendid but this is all I have." He tossed a rumpled paper bag on her entryway table; inside were the manuscript and drawings for The Little Prince.

1 item (175 leaves), unbound : ill. ; 280 x 215 mm

High reserve.
Most manuscript pages and drawings are written or executed on Fidelity Onion Skin paper. Saint Exupéry irregularly foliated the text pages only, usually in the upper left corner of the manuscript. A later foliation, in the upper right corner of the manuscript, includes the full-page drawings. All references to specific page numbers are from the later foliation. See collection files for a detailed description of the foliations.
Saint-Exupéry began writing Le petit prince upon his return to New York City in June 1942, at the suggestion of Elizabeth Reynal. He began composing the story late in the evenings at Silvia Reinhardt's Park Avenue apartment, where "a doll ... posed as the Little Prince, giving him a mop of golden curls ... Mocha the poodle modeled for the sheep; a boxer Silvia bought for Saint-Exupéry in August ... became the tiger." The city, however, was very hot that summer and the Saint-Exupérys soon rented the Bevin House, a Victorian mansion in Asharoken, Long Island, where Saint-Exupéry completed the work.--Cf. Stacy Schiff, Saint-Exupéry: a biography (New York: Knopf, 1994), p. 372-379.
Saint-Exupéry used a set of children's watercolors purchased from an Eighth Avenue drugstore to execute the thirty-five full-page watercolor drawings (Schiff, p. 378). Lacroix places them all in New York, although some may have been executed after Saint-Exupéry moved to the Bevin House.


Being the original autograph manuscript of Le petit prince, written on onionskin paper in pencil and ink and with autograph corrections and revisions throughout. Eight pages (p. 2, 4, 5, 9, 19, 41, 140, 141) incorporate small pencil sketches within the text. The manuscript also contains thirty-five full-page preparatory drawings, executed in pencil and watercolor, interspersed throughout. Five text pages (p. 2, 4, 5, 19, 41) and all thirty-five full-page drawings have been matted and are housed separately. The full-page drawings have been cataloged separately as MA 2592.1-35; see related records for more information.

Housed in: 
Blue cloth drop-spine box (30.1 cm) and two black solander boxes
Presented by Saint-Exupéry to Mrs. Silvia Reinhardt; purchased on the Elisabeth Ball Fund, 1968.