[ Honolulu: ]: 1938 ]. This manuscript version of “The Tar-Baby and the Rabbit” was written and illustrated as a gift to “Nancy,” probably the granddaughter of the manuscript’s creator. “When your Mother was a little girl I used to tell her some Uncle Remus stories,” the inscription reads. “I hope that you will enjoy this one of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, and that I have remembered to tell it exactly as Uncle Remus told it so many years ago.”. All manuscript text and illustrations in black ink. With a page-long inscription by E.A. Ropes. Some wear and chipping to boards. Minor occasional toning, mostly to first and last leaf. Very good. Cord-bound wooden boards (possibly Koa wood) carved with the initials “NLW.”. 7 x 9 in. 32 pp., with text and illustration on  pp. only. Item #17562
The best-known version of “The Tar-Baby and the Rabbit” story was published by Joel Chandler Harris in his folklore collection Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings (1888) as “The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story.” As Bryan Wagner writes in The Tar Baby: A Global History, “The tar baby is an electric figure in contemporary culture. As a racial epithet, a folk archetype, an existential symbol, and an artifact of mass culture, the term ‘tar baby’ stokes controversy, in the first place because of its racism. At least since the 1840s, ‘tar baby’ has been used as a grotesque term of abuse, and it continues to feel like an assault no matter the circumstances in which it is employed. At the same time, ‘tar baby’ has operated as a figure of speech suggesting a problem that gets worse the harder you try to solve it. The term takes both of these senses in the tar baby story…Again and again, Uncle Remus’s version of the tar baby was syndicated, translated, illustrated, excerpted, and interpolated in newspapers, magazines, folklore anthologies, and children’s treasuries….
The tar baby exists in literally hundreds of versions derived over several centuries on at least five continents. Since the 1880s, collectors have claimed they heard the tar baby ‘over and over’ in the field, leading some of them to speculate the story was ‘omnipresent’ in world culture…As a counterexample to [claims that ‘slavery destroyed the personalities of its victims’], the tar baby showed that slaves were neither deracinated nor submissive. It was a story that survived the brutality of the Middle Passage, a story that was passed down from generation to generation and continent to continent, demonstrating the independence that slaves retained under the worst conditions” (ix-xii).