I have already told you before of my recent discovery of books in Booksale. Remember my article on The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver? I told you then that I also found another treasure. It was a novel by Margaret Mitchell. No it wasn’t Gone with the Wind. It was a novel which everyone thought was lost forever only to be uncovered years after the protagonists have died. It was aptly titled Lost Laysen.
The greatest thing about this discovery was that i only shelled out P20 for it. It was on sale. Looks like nobody recognized its worth. It was previously pegged at P120, then reduced to P70, down to P45, and ultimately, to P20.
This story itself is not as complicated as Gone With the Wind, spanning years and years with complex societal backdrop. What is truly a gem is the story behind the story.
The Lost Laysen was written by Margaret Mitchell on 1916, from July 10 to Aug 6, to be exact. This means it was written when Margaret, or Peggy as she liked to called, was four months shy her 16th birthday. According to the Introduction, Peggy wrote this story on two blue notebooks with hardly any erasures, written as if the story flowed continuously from her mind to her pen. She gave this story to Henry Love Angel as a gift.
Until the recent discovery of Lost Laysen and a few other memorabilia, Henry Love Angel was a mere footnote on Mitchell’s life. But as it turns out, Henry Love Angel’s relationship with Margaret Mitchell was much more complicated than anyone ever imagined. They were childhood friends and Henry made no secret of his love for Margaret. They shared a very meaningful relationship together, not quite as lovers, but certainly as more than friends. Henry proposed to her many times but Margaret said that she couldn’t picture them bound by marriage. Eventually, Margaret marries another man, but maintained her ties with Henry.
Margaret Mitchell, assuming from notes uncovered, wrote other novels besides the best-selling Gone with the Wind. However, she requested that all her works be destroyed when she dies. Henry didn’t destroy Margaret’s gift but he didn’t talk about it all, letting it sit in the closet for a long time. It was only after Henry’s death that the manuscript was discovered. And along with it a deeper and new understanding of Margaret Mitchell and her relationship with Henry. So it was decide by people concerned that Lost Laysen be printed along with Margaret’s letters to Henry and their pictures together. Lost Laysen is deeply entwined with their own story. To this day, it is still not known why Margaret presented Henry with a story of unrequited love.
Lost Laysen was printed in 1996, following the public announcement of the discoveries on 1995. It was edited by Debra Freer and published by Scribner Paperback Fiction.
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