Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Win some, lose some

Yesterday the early-western researcher in me got some unwanted news. I’ve been hoping to find a copy of a novel that’s not available anywhere as an ebook. It’s a book by western writer Hugh Pendexter, called The Mantle of Red Evans (1914). A short version of the story can be found in Munsey’s, published October 1911. It’s even nicely illustrated there (at right and below).

I know that at least six hard copies of the novel exist. I can see them online, arranged in a digital list at (you can see for yourself). The nearest is at the University of Tulsa, and in progressive giant steps across the country, the next are at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Ohio State University, The Strong Museum in Rochester, New York, and finally Harvard University, where there are not one but two copies.

"Unbuckle those guns!"
Alas, they are apparently too fragile or valuable to circulate. Yesterday I learned from interlibrary loan that they’ve been unable to turn up a copy for me. The only current alternative is to travel to Tulsa, which is 1700 miles from where I’m sitting. (The worldcat site conveniently provides the mileage between me and each copy of the book.) Not likely to happen.

I might shrug this off except that Hugh Pendexter  (1875-1940) went on to be a prolific western writer. Judging from the story in Munsey’s, he shows an early gift for the genre. "The Mantle of Red Evans" has strong characters and clever plotting, and it shows a gift for comic irony.

All of which is not to say I’ve given up looking for the book. It’s there somewhere, located maybe at as many as six degrees of separation. Unfortunately interlibrary loan is not one of them. I’m happy to entertain search ideas from anyone reading this. I'm also available to commiserate with anyone who’s had the same or a similar problem.

Illustrations: W. Herbert Dunton

Coming up: William Lacey Amy, The Blue Wolf (1913)


  1. All I have is the MUNSEY issue with the short story, bound with issues from Oct 1911-March 1912. I see it's only 6 pages long so it won't be any help since it must be just a small scene from the novel.

  2. I would hope that books like this are being digitalized. It's amazing how much stuff is now available on the web--stuff that when I was doing my dissertation I would have traveled long distances to check out. Good luck.

  3. That's worth a story. Imagine being that rare and what a writer might go to to have it.

  4. Ron, Powells Used Bookstore in Portland had some books by a Hugh Pendexter. You might check it out, maybe they can find it for you.