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LAWES, Lewis E.

Twenty thousand years in Sing Sing.

Published: New York and Chicago, A. L. Burt Company, 1932

Stock code: 44223

Price: £75

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First edition. This copy inscribed to “Mr. Alexander Lees with best wishes” by Lawes in 1937. Lawes was a prison warden and an outspoken advocate of prison reform. He began his career as a warden at Dannemora in 1905, subsequently working at first Auburn Prison and Elmira Reformatory, becoming Superintendent of the City Reformatory on Hart Island in New York City in 1915 and in 1918 taking over as warden of the Massachusetts State Prison. When he accepted Governor Al Smith’s invitation to become Warden of Sing Sing in 1920, it was expected that his tenure would be as short as his predecessors, however he remained there for 21 years until his retirement in 1941. This account of his experiences was twice filmed, in 1932 under the same title, starring Spencer Tracy and again in 1940 as Castle on the Hudson with John Garfield. Jonathan Goodman was described by Julian Symons as “the premier English investigator of crimes past.” He has added a brief note to the front pastedown by way of explanation of the previous ownership inscription, that Gilbert Hair, “was the first English prison governor appointed on true merit as opposed to a military background.”

Octavo, original blue cloth lettered in black. Portrait frontispiece and 12 other plates. Ownership inscription of Gilbert Hair dated in 1952 to the front free endpaper, self-adhesive book ticket of crime historian Jonathan Goodman below it. A little rubbed, spine a touch sunned, light browning, overall very good.

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