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the only extant manuscript of the first edition

SPOCK, BENJAMIN. The Pocket Book of Baby and Child Care

No Place, [ca. 1946.]

340 leaves. Original ribbon typescript, rectos only, comprising 22 unnumbered leaves plus 318 leaves numbered in pencil (1-305 with 13 scattered unnumbered leaves). Original cream card wrappers, metal prong fasteners, upper cover with cloth label titled in manuscript “The Pocket Book of Baby and Child Care / Benjamin Spock” and the wrapper with notations “Volume I” and “Copy #1.” Covers rubbed and soiled. Good condition. Scores of corrections, additions, and deletions in pencil throughout the text.

Spock’s book helped to revolutionize child-rearing in post-war America. Within one year of its first publication the book sold 750,000 copies, and it has since sold more than 50 million copies in ten editions and more than 40 languages. “When it appeared in 1946, the advice in Dr. Spock’s now classic book was a dramatic break from the prevailing ‘expert’ opinion. Rather than force a baby into a strict behavioral schedule, Spock, who had training in both pediatrics and psychiatry, encouraged parents to use their own judgment and common sense” (NYPL Books of the Century).

The New York Times noted that “babies do not arrive with owner’s manuals … But for three generations of American parents, the next best thing was Baby and Child Care … Dr. Benjamin Spock … breathed humanity and common sense into child-rearing.” Spock’s critics believed that his “permissive” approach to parenting had helped to create a generation of self-centered narcissists—the baby boomers and the counterculture of the 1960s.

Spock’s book was first issued by Duell, Sloan and Pearce in May 1946 as the Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. That hardcover edition was intended to capture the notice of reviewers and the medical community. But the main publishing effort was the Pocket Books paperback titled The Pocket Book of Baby and Child Care. That textually identical edition, first published a few weeks later at 25 cents to maximize sales and reach, became a runaway bestseller. This typescript, which uses the Pocket Books title, concludes with the toilet training section. The published edition continues with sections on older children beginning at age one.

This corrected typescript shows countless substantial differences from the published edition. Comparison of this typescript with the published text reveals that Spock added and removed many passages and entire sections of the book.

This is the only extant manuscript of the first edition of Spock’s Baby and Child Care. Spock’s voluminous papers, held by Syracuse University, include multiple boxes relating to the second and later editions, but the first edition is not represented there.

New York Public Library Books of the Century 95. Guardian 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time 33. Library of C

Original ribbon typescript, with manuscript corrections, of the first edition of one of the best-selling and most influential books of the 20th century.