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Prose Versions of the Story of John Maynard

 

Before the poetic versions of the "John Maynard" story appeared in print, various prose versions were published. The early versions, usually entitled "The Helmsman of Lake Erie," were published in newspapers in 1845 and later with no attribution to any author. In the 1860s, new versions of the story, with various titles and attributed to John B. Gough, began appearing in newspapers, school books, and collections of readings. Norman Barry, a retired Gymnasium teacher from Bad Schussenried, Germany, has made a chart of all of the versions he has found in print, and he has responded to speculations about the authorship of the anonymous ones.The links below will take you to Norman's chart, a comparison he made of three of the early stories, many examples of these prose versions of the story, various speculations, and more.

 

CHART

Norman Barry's chart of all the versions of the story that he has found in print.

ANONYMOUS

NEW! Sensational Discovery: "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" First Printed in Britain! -- by Norman Barry.

"The Helmsman of Lake Erie" as presented in The Church of England Magazine.

Norman Barry's collation of the Poughkeepsie Journal & Eagle and The Church of England Magazine versions of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie."

Two Transatlantic Passages: The Convoluted Path of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" to Poughkeepsie, an essay by Norman Barry.

NEW! The Genesis of the 1845 "Helmsman of Lake Erie" in a Nutshell An essay by Norman Barry that provides quick access to the creation of the 1845 sketch.

Norman Barry's comparison of three newspaper versions of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie."

The Two Basic Textual Variations of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" in Light of the Discovery of the Poughkeepsie Journal & Eagle, the Maine Cultivator & Gazette, and the Mohawk Courier, an essay by Norman Barry.

Der „JOHN MAYNARD” URTEXT aus dem Jahre 1845 ins Deutsche übersetzt:

a) Deutsch ohne Englisch

b) Deutsch und Englisch (zum Vergleich)

Another comparison by Norman Barry that includes two more newspaper versions of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie."

The text of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" with NUMBERED LINES for quoting.

The earliest printing of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" found so far (August, 2011). It appeared in the Poughkeepsie Journal and Eagle on July 19, 1845.

An early printing of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" that appeared in the Maine Cultivator and Hallowell Weekly Gazette on July 26, 1845.

A printing of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" with an editorial comment about the lack of information on its origin. Sun Weekly of New York City for the week ending October 11, 1845.

Who Wrote "The Helmsman of Lake Erie?" An Examination of Two Candidates: Charles Dickens and James Fenimore Cooper, an essay by Norman Barry.

The front page of the Baltimore Sun of August 30, 1845, containing a prose version of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie."

The front page of the The Wisconsin Argus of September 2, 1845, containing a prose version of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie."

"The Helmsman of Lake Erie" published in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser on September 12, 1845 (there's an obvious misprint in the newspaper header).

An account of the story of John Maynard in the "Editors Drawer" of Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 52, September 1854, held at Cornell University Library.

An account of the story of John Maynard with an interesting preface from The Standard, of Clarksville, Red River County, Texas, October 27, 1860, Vol. 17, No. 41.

An interesting partial account of the story from the New London Democrat, of New London, Connecticut, Saturday, February 12, 1848, Vol. III, No. 48, Whole No. 152, p. 1, c. 2.

An attempt to find out whether "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" is a true story, from The Portage County Advocate, Wednesday, September 13, 1854, Ravenna, Ohio, New Series: Vol. I, No. 24, p. 2, c. 6. Transcription by Norman Barry. An image of the actual article.

An image of a page of the Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer of September 10, 1845 (Vol. I, No. 134), showing the publication of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" by B. B. French, followed by the anonymous prose version.

"THE HELMSMAN OF LAKE ERIE" IN LIGHT OF THE ROLE PLAYED BY RELIGION IN THE FICTIONAL WRITING OF JAMES FENIMORE COOPER -- OR, THE SECRET WHY THE GOOD MAN, WHEN DYING, DOES NOT GROAN, an essay by NORMAN BARRY.

THE POUGHKEEPSIE FACTOR: THE LINK TO JAMES FENIMORE COOPER? an essay by Norman Barry.

Recently discovered (by Norman Barry) German translations of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" published in Der Liberale Beobachter (The Liberal Observer) in Reading, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1846 and in Der Lecha Patriot in Allentown, Pennsylvania on November29, 1849. Below you'll find links to a copy of the original Der Liberale Beobachter article (see the first two columns) and a transcription from Fraktur made by Norman Barry for ease of reading.

"Der Steuermann auf dem Erie-See" as printed in Der Liberale Beobachter in 1846.

"Der Steuermann auf dem Erie-See" from Der Liberale Beobachter transcribed by Norman Barry.

 

GOUGH

"Brave John Maynard!" by John B. Gough in The British Workman, No. 107, November, 1863

"The Pilot" by John B. Gough in The Royal Gallery of Poetry and Art: An Illustrated Book of the Favorite Poetic Gems of the English Language, the Choicest Productions of Authors, Living and Dead, for the Uncrowned Kings and Queens of American Homes (New York : N. D. Thompson Publishing Co., 1886), including images of the cover of the book, the dedication page, and the title page.

"John Maynard!" by John B. Gough in The Child's World Fifth Reader, by W. K. Tate, Sarah Withers, and Hetty S. Browne (Richmond, VA: Johnson Publishing Company, 1917)

"DER STEUERMANN, Ein spannender Vorfall" by John B. Gough. This translation from one of the original English versions appears in George Salomon's "Wer ist John Maynard? Fontanes tapferer Steuermann und sein amerikanisches Vorbild," Fontane Blätter, (Potsdam, Germany: Fontane Archives, 1965), No. 2, pp. 25-40.

"A Hero," a report on an anecdote from a lecture by John Gough in the Albany Evening Journal, September 28, 1860. A copy of the original article. Norman Barry's translation of the article into German, with interlinear English.

Norman Barry's comparison of three Gough texts from 1860, 1863 and 1886.

Norman Barry's comparison of a typical 1845 anonymous "John Maynard" text with John Gough's 1860 version of the story.

Ein Vergleich - Die zwei amerikanischen Vorlagen der Legende von John Maynard: Der anonyme Urtext von 1845 und die stark gekürzte Fassung von J. B. Gough aus dem Jahre 1860.

 

BARTON

24 Years Afterwards: William H. Barton's Rendering of "The Helmsman of Lake Erie" - Commented on by Norman Barry

 

EINWAECHTER

An interesting version of the story written by a German pastor in 1937, presented in German with an English translation by Ziggy Rein.

 

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