Sold: Ruth Plumly Thompson Handwritten Notes re: Jean Gros Marionettes in BILLY IN BUNBURY 1925 Royal Baking Book


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Here is a very interesting copy of Billy in Bunbury, put out by Royal Baking Company and written anonymously by Oz author Ruth Plumly Thompson in 1925. This copy with hand-written pencil notes by Thompson related to the Jean Gros marionette show “The Magical Land of Oz” that toured starting in 1928. Thompson wrote the script for the show, and these notes appear to have been written ca. 1927, when the show was first being promoted. Thompson writes “Pittsburgh–Jean Gros–am getting together preliminary press sheet for Oz. Could you write me 10 inch column making fantastic announcement that the marionettes are leaving Oz”? And more, finally asking that the story be sent to a Pittsburgh address.

At first this looked like a note Thompson was writing to Gros, but upon further inspection and consultation with Oz expert John Fricke, we believe that this was a transcribed conversation FROM Gros to Thompson. It may even be her writing down a phoned telegram from him, which was common practice at the time. As further support of this idea, I found that the Pittsburgh address given for the copy to be sent to was indeed that of Jean Gros (confirmed by a 1932 city directory). The note is unsigned, but both John and I both recognize the handwriting as belonging to Thompson. A fascinating glimpse into the preparation and publicity for this early Oz puppet show, and unusual to see this much of Thompson’s handwriting, as usually she typed her letters. The note is written on the last pages of this booklet that is in near fine condition overall. The last photo shows information about the puppet show that was published in a ca. 1928 Reilly & Lee Ozmapolitan, not included.