Morris Ernst Manuscript "So Far So Good," 1944

Collection number: MS 238
Size: (1 item) (0.10 cu.ft.)

About Morris Leopold Ernst

Born in Uniontown, Alabama on Aug. 23, 1888 to a Czech-born father and German mother, Morris Leopold Ernst (1888–1976) was an American lawyer and co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1933, on behalf of Random House he successfully defended James Joyce’s novel Ulysses against obscenity charges, leading to its distribution in the U.S. He won similar cases on behalf of Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness and Arthur Schnitzler’s Casanova’s Homecoming. In 1937, as attorney for the American Newspaper Guild, he persuaded the Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act (the Wagner Act) as applied to the press, establishing the right of media employees to organize labor unions.

Ernst was a strong supporter of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. In 1940, as head of the ACLU, he agreed to bar communists from employment there and even discouraged their membership, basing his position on a distinction between the rights of the individual and the rights of groups. He counted Justice Louis Brandeis as a close friend and later had close personal relationships with Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and New York Governor Herbert Lehman. Besides politicians, he also was friendly with many cultural icons, such as Edna Ferber, E. B. White, Groucho Marx, Compton Mackenzie, Al Capp, Charles Addams, Grandma Moses, Heywood Broun, and Margaret Bourke White.

Ernst was married twice, in 1912 to Susan Leerburger, with whom he had a son who died in infancy and a daughter. Susan died in 1922. In 1923 he married Margaret Samuels and together they had a son and a daughter and five grandchildren. Margaret died in 1964. Ernst kept a summer home on Nantucket and enjoyed sailing small boats. He died at home in New York City on May 21, 1976.

About the Morris Leopold Ernst Novel Manuscript "So Far So Good"

The manuscript of So Far So Good is the second typed draft (although this information is scored out on the title page) and dates from 1944. In the original typed version of the draft this is the title that was used, but this was changed to The Best is Yet on the "Table of Contents" page. The novel was eventually published under the title So Far So Good in 1948.

The draft runs to 532 pages and, according to a bookplate included with it, was donated to the University of New Hampshire Library by the residents of Scott Hall on the campus who apparently contributed to the war effort by either purchasing the manuscript or by selling a large number of war bonds. Soon after the entry of the United States into World War II, various means of finding ways to help finance the War on the “grass-roots” level were sought. An ingenious way of selling some bonds was devised by a committee titled the National Book and Author War Bond Committee. The noted writer, Mark Van Doren, was chair of this Committee. The Committee’s aim was to solicit as many manuscripts (in some cases illustrations) from famous literary individuals with the purpose of either auctioning them to the highest bidder, or offering them as gifts to institutions or groups who sold the greatest amount of bonds. Apparently, in many instances the Committee worked through some of the local public libraries either for publicity purposes or for similar aid. It is also possible that towards the end of the War, some manuscripts which were not disposed of were given as gifts to various libraries. It is not known for sure exactly what plan was followed in making these gifts.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

Morris Ernst Novel Manuscript, MS 238, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donation: Scott Hall, UNH campus (Accession number: 2011.07; originally 8695)

Collection Contents

Folder 1pp. 1-106
Folder 2pp. 107-225
Folder 3pp. 226-314
Folder 4pp. 315-399
Folder 5pp. 400-532


Manuscripts & Typescripts