Alex Haley’s Malcolm X Manuscripts Hailed as Literary Find
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Two early drafts of Alex Haley’s ″Autobiography of Malcolm X,″ including one the Haley estate says was edited by the Black Muslim leader, were hailed Thursday as a major literary find.
The manuscripts were found in boxes on Haley’s 127-acre farm, along with four sections of text that didn’t make it into the book. Also uncovered were letters to Haley from Malcolm X and former American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell and a note Malcolm X scribbled on a napkin.
Trustees of Haley’s estate plan to auction those and other items Oct. 1-3 in Knoxville to pay off the estate’s $570,000 in debts and avoid foreclosure on the farm.
The discovery two years ago of the first half of Mark Twain’s ″The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn″ might rank above the Malcolm X manuscripts, said Jim Lloyd, special collections curator at the University of Tennessee.
″But this is right up there,″ said Lloyd, who oversees a large collection of memorabilia donated by Haley before his death in February.
The collection includes manuscripts of Haley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, ″Roots: The Saga of an American Family.″
Novelist Joyce Carol Thomas, who is also a professor at the University of Tennessee, said she hadn’t seen the Malcolm X material but had no doubt about its significance.
″Many things are revealed″ about an author through a person’s draft manuscripts, she said.
The Malcolm X book was Haley’s first. It sprang from a series of Playboy magazine interviews he had with the Black Muslim leader and was published in 1965, the year Malcolm X was assassinated.
The manuscripts and letters between the author and activist were stored for years in boxes on Haley’s farm in Norris, about 20 miles northwest of Knoxville. Paul Coleman, an attorney for the Haley estate, and researchers found them Tuesday.
One manuscript has editing notes in green ink, a Haley trademark. The other has notes in red made by Malcolm X, Coleman said.
Coleman said a note written on a napkin by Malcolm X was found stapled to a folder. The note said:
″When I was released from prison, the first 3 items I purchased were: 1) eye glasses, 2) a watch, 3) a suitcase (so I could see what time it is and where to travel) and I’ve been on the move geographically (and upward) ever since.″