Thursday, May 17, 2007

Roger Jackson, Publisher

Have you ever looked up a Miller sale item on a used book website, and seen a reference next to the book that looked something like 'A13 Shifreen & Jackson'? With the publication of Henry Miller: A Bibliography of Primary Sources, volumes I &II in the early 1990s, the scattered, colossal output of Henry Miller's written word finally found a home under a single roof. We can thank Roger Jackson (and a cast of supporting characters) for that. Since 1994, Jackson has continued to publish rare and unique items on Miller, from simple chapbooks to luxuriously illustrated and designed hardcover books. Jackson is also the managing editor of Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal, currently on it's fourth annual volume.

The book Roger Jackson wanted to see did not exist: an absolutely definitive bibliography of Henry Miller's work. So he created one. But nothing was as simple as that. In 1990, with the 100th anniversary of Henry Miller's birth coming the following year, Jackson decided to build upon the existing bibliographies and created a master bibliography of primary sources. He discovered that Lawrence Shifreen, author of the Henry Miller Bibliography of Secondary Sources had already started a Primary Source book (although the notes were nowhere as complete as Jackson would eventually make them). But Shifreen had abandonned the project ten years earier; that is, until Jackson called him up with an offer to help him finish it. Between jobs, Jackson thought he'd be able to complete the research project by the end of the summer and see it published by 1991. Instead, Jackson shouldered a burden that would not see its first pressing until 1993.

The story is told in detail in Jackson's small press chapbook (100 copies) called A Bibliographer's Tale (1996). This book is just one of over one-hundred items Jackson has published from his small press in Michigan.

If there are rare Henry Miller items that you've read about in biographies and wondered if they still exist, chances are Roger Jackson has published them. Unpublished sections from Tropic Of Cancer? Check. The Mezzotints? Check. Letters Miller wrote to Black Cat magazine? Check. Jackson has also published specific Miller bibliographies, like a complete listing of Henry's watercolours and a visually stunning and thorough book devoted to Miller's appearances in nudie magazines. Jackson also publishes work relating to Miller friends and associates, especially Bern Porter.

All of these items were published in limited numbers and are generally hard to find now. Not even Jackson has a storehouse of his work anymore. But a dealer in Colorado now sells many of Jackson's publications [see Arcane Imprints on eBay]. As these are now collector's items, their value has greatly increased.

Roger Jackson
The Ohio State University stores a collection of Jackson's works. Their website lists the full inventory; it ends at 2001 and is not complete. Besides the Primary Sources books, I've included a mere sampling of other titles below:
The Mezzotints (1993). A facsimile edition of Miller's first eight separate publications, individual broadsides that he and June distributed in New York in the Twenties, with a booklet providing a detailed history. [description source]

Henry Miller: A Personal Archive (1994). After Primary Sources was released, the Miller children allowed Jackson and Vol. II co-author William Ashley permission to enter their deep storage of Miller's personal archive in order to catalogue it. Profusely illustrated (with many facsimiles) and describing many holographic manuscripts, transcripts, letters, photographs (Over 1000 are described) , artwork, legal documents, awards, memorabilia, booklets, correspondence journals, furniture, plays, cancelled checks, contracts, wall charts, business records, notebooks, etc. [description source]

Marilyn Monroe's bloody tampon: A section from Mrs. Henry Millers Nightmare ; a full translation of the Japanese text. (as written by Hoki Tokuda). (1995)
Writers Three: A Literary Exchange on the Works of Claude Houghton with Henry Miller, Claude Houghton, Ben Abramson (1995). Letters between the three men from 1938-1942.

I've Got The Cosmic Blues (by Henry Miller) (1995)
Henry Miller And The Nudies: A Bibliography for Readers and Collectors (1996). Expanded edition, 2001.
My Affair With Anais Nin: San Francisco Days: A Candid Interview With Bern Porter (1997).
Letters to The Black Cat (by Henry Miller) (1996).
Henry Miller: A Bibliography of Water Colors (1997).
Henry Miller and Elmer Gertz: Selected Letters 1964-1975 (1998). "While readers are urged to devour the first volume of correspondence as well, this present collection stands on its own in terms of shedding light on the lives and friendship of these two important writers through their written exchanges since July, 1964, which, significantly, marked the end of the painfully curious litigation surrounding the Grove Press publication of Tropic of Cancer."
A Letter to The New Republic (by Henry Miller) (1998).
June Scattered in Fragments: A Biographical Sketch of Henry Miller’s Second Wife (by Stephen Starck). (1998)
Henry Miller's Brooklyn (by Irving Stettner) (1999).
From Tropic of Cancer (excerpts from the novel) (1999).
Henry Miller: 18 individual Portraits and an Introductory Essay (by Peter Gowland) (2000)
William Ashley--who helped put together Primary V.II and Personal Archive along with Jackson--has his own website, on which much of Miller's bibliographical information is posted.
Roger Jackson does not have his own website, but if you happen to be at some bazaar in a village town in Iceland and discover a rare edition of a Henry Miller book with a weird publishing variation not found in the Primary Sources book, drop him a line at the Nexus wesbite.