de Grummond Collection

McCain Library and Archives
University Libraries
University of Southern Mississippi



VICTOR MAYS PAPERS

Collection Number
Collection Dates
Collection Volume
DG0684
1953-1992 [1953-1970]
5.40 cu.ft. (10 boxes)

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content | Related Collections | Series & Subseries | Box Inventory

Provenance

Materials received from Victor Mays between 1967 and 1992.

Restrictions

Non-circulating; available for research.

Copyright

This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials, other than that noted above.


Biographical Sketch

Lewis Victor Mays, Jr. was born in New York City on July 2, 1927. At an early age his parents moved to Bronxville, New York, where Mays lived for twelve years, spending his summer vacations in Indiana. As a child he was inspired to draw by the illustrations of such artists as N. C. Wyeth, Arthur Rackham, and Anton Otto Fischer. This enthusiasm for drawing carried over into high school, where Mays illustrated assigned papers and reports. Besides drawing, Mays' other great interests as a young man were boats and the water. He claims that, in his youth, he "was on water at every opportunity," and the nautical stories of Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson were among his favorite reading.

When Mays graduated from high school in 1945, his love of the sea naturally led him to enlist in the U.S. Navy. World War II ended shortly after Mays' enlistment and the Navy sent him to Ohio State University for officer training. Mays transferred to Yale in 1946 and took his Bachelor of Arts degree from there in 1949 with a combined major in history, English and art. Mays again served in the Navy during the Korean War from 1952 to 1954. He afterward remained in the Naval Reserve as an officer and eventually attained the rank of captain.

In 1953 Mays' first book, Fast Iron, was published. This adventure novel, set aboard a nineteenth century New England whaling ship, has a wealth of historical detail in both its text and illustrations, thanks to its creator's painstaking research and knowledge of sailing. The book won a Gold Medal in the Boys' Clubs of America Junior Book Awards for 1954.

It was also in 1954 that Mays married. Following his discharge from active duty that year, he concentrated on free-lance illustration in order to support his family. Numerous illustration assignments left him little time to write. Nevertheless, Mays subsequently wrote two more novels, Action Starboard (1956) and Dead Reckoning (1967). Both books are adventure novels dealing with the sea. Mays' chief interests are maritime and military history, and it is in these subjects he specializes in illustrating. Mays particularly enjoys the research necessary for historically accurate illustrations and considers such research to be an enjoyable pastime, along with sailing and home carpentry.

Victor Mays has written and illustrated three novels for young people and has illustrated more than eighty books for other authors, not counting book jackets and magazine illustrations. Several of the books he has illustrated have won awards, such as Trail Blazer of the Seas (1956), which won a Boys' Club Gold Medal, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Man of Peace" (1969), which won a Corretta Scott King award in 1970. Since 1977 he has exclusively devoted his talents to watercolors of a marine historical nature, and his more recent works are now seen in art galleries instead of books.

Mr. Mays and his wife have three married children and three grandchildren. He resides in Clinton, Connecticut, in a shingle cottage near the shore.

Sources:


Scope and Content

This collection is arranged into five series containing correspondence, a promotional item, original materials related to twenty-five of Mays' published books, a sketch for a magazine story illustrated by Mays, and a sketch of the dust jacket for an unidentified book. The correspondence has been arranged chrono-logically. Book materials have been arranged alphabetically by book title and within each title according to the probable order in which they were created.

The correspondence consists of photocopies of selected letters sent by Mays to the de Grummond Collection. These letters document his contributions to the collection from 1967 to 1992. In some of the letters Mays discusses his art techniques. Also included in the correspondence is an autobiographical sketch, dated 1969, and a self-compiled bibliography of his published works from 1971. The promotional item is a proof of a flyer which shows samples of Mays' line drawings.

The majority of Mays' published work, both novels and illustrations, reflect his interest in nautical subjects and history. This collection contains materials related to all three of Mays' young adult novels. For Fast Iron (1953), his first published book, the collection holds several of the original scratchboard illustrations. This first novel incorporated material from Mays' senior thesis at Yale, which dealt with nineteenth century New England whaling technology. Fast Iron was awarded a Boys Club Gold Medal in 1954. The collection contains only one illustration for Action Starboard (1956), which chronicles a cabin boy's adventures aboard an American privateer in the War of 1812. Dead Reckoning (1967) is about a high school student who accidentally becomes involved in the espionage surrounding stolen plans of a top-secret Navy project. For this title there are an edited typescript and sixteen illustrations.

Many of the books that have been illustrated by Mays were in Houghton Mifflin's North Star Books line, a series of titles for young people on American history topics. Sterling North served as general editor of the series, of which eight titles are represented in this collection. For Great Days of Whaling (1958) and The Battle for Quebec (1959) there are complete sets of interior illustrations and paintings of the dust jackets. For The Battle of Lake Erie (1960) there is a complete set of two-color pre-separated artwork, one negative, and a painting of the dust jacket. There are no original illustrations for The First Steamboat on the Mississippi (1962), but there are numerous negative proofs and a dust jacket painting. Mark Twain and the River (1961) is represented by a complete set of color separations, a sketch of the dust jacket, and a painting of the dust jacket. For Ticonderoga, the Story of a Fort (1959) there is a complete set of illustrations as well as a sketch and a painting of the dust jacket. Washington and the Revolution (1959) is represented by illustrations and a dust jacket painting, and for Wells Fargo (1961) there are color separations and a painting of the dust jacket.

Garrard Publishing Company's "How They Lived' series of books was intended to spotlight certain periods of America's past and make them come alive for young readers. Mays also illustrated books in this series, two of which are represented in the collection. Flatboat Days on Frontier Rivers (1968) tells of the flatboats which carried goods and people down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to trade in New Orleans in the late 1700's and early 1800's. Lumberjacks of the North Woods (1967) describes life in the north woods lumbering camps between 1850 and 1900. For each of these titles the collection holds one sketch.

For A Farewell to Arms (1969) and The Old Man and the Sea (1968) the collection holds one sketch of the cover art for each title. These covers were used for Scribner's paperback editions of the Hemingway classics.

A Blow for Liberty (1965), though not written by Mays, bears a certain similarity in plot to Action Starboard: the novel concerns a young man who serves aboard a privateer during the American Revolution. For this title there are two illustrations and a sketch of the dust jacket. For Aristedes Monteiro: Confederate Surgeon (1969) there is an annotated watercolor sketch of the dust jacket. The collection holds a complete set of Mays' color separations for Meet Christopher Columbus (1968), an account of Columbus' first voyage to the Americas written for children. Pirate Rock (1969) is, along with Dead Reckoning, the only book represented in the collection that does not deal in some way with a historical subject. The novel concerns the dilemma two brothers face when they learn that their kindly employer is actually a Communist spy. For The Sly One (1966), a humorous suspense novel to which Mays contributed the dust jacket art, there is a sketch of the dust jacket. Yankee Doodle Boy (1964) is an edited version of the memoirs of Joseph Plumb Martin, a veteran of the American Revolution who fought in that war for seven years. Mays' illustrations, of which this collection holds three originals, were approved by the Company of Military Historians for their historical accuracy. Under the Pirate Flag (1965) is about a young man's experiences when he stows away on a pirate ship, very much in the tradition of Treasure Island. For this title the collection holds one original illustration and the painting for the dust jacket.

Representing Mays' contribution to magazine illustration is a rough sketch used for John Gottlob's story "Hurricane," which was published in Skipper magazine. No publication date for the story is available.

Unidentified at this time is an annotated sketch for Confederate Blockade Runners (undated). It is uncertain whether this book was ever actually published.

The Victor Mays Papers should be of particular interest to those interested in the process of creating two-color pre-separated illustrations. Mays' command of this process is quite apparent in the holdings for The Battle of Lake Erie, Mark Twain and the River, Meet Christopher Columbus, and Wells Fargo.



Related Collection

NONE




Series and Subseries


A. Correspondence (1967-1977, 1992)

B. Promotional (undated)

C. Books (1953-1970)

D. Magazines (undated)

"Hurricane" by John Gottlob, Skipper.

E. Unidentified (undated)

CONFEDERATE BLOCKADE RUNNERS

Box Inventory


    Box/Folder

A. Correspondence

1/1 To the de Grummond Collection, 1967-1977, 5 items.

B. Promotional

1/2 Proof, sample sheet of Mays line drawings, undated.

C. Books

ACTION STARBOARD written and illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956). 1/3 Illustration, scratchboard, p. 13. ARISTEDES MONTEIRO: CONFEDERATE SURGEON (Dodd, Mead, 1969). 1/4 Sketch, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. THE BATTLE FOR QUEBEC by F. Van Wyck Mason, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965). 1/5-2/1 Illustrations, opaque watercolor, 1/5 title page, pp. 14, 21, 24, 28/29, 32, 36/37, 40; 1/6 pp. 42/43, 50, 54, 57, 66, 73, 80, 84/85; 1/7 pp. 88, 96, 100/101, 109, 112, 116/117, 121, 130/131; 2/1 pp. 135,139, 147, 150/151, 158/159, 164/165, 172/173, 177, 179. 2/2 Illustration, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. [Stored separately]. THE BATTLE OF LAKE ERIE by F. Van Wyck Mason, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960). 2/3-3/1 Color separations, 2/3 title page, pp. 11, 14/15, 22, 26/27, 30, 34, 42, 46/47, 58/59, 10 items; 2/4 pp. 66, 70/71, 73, 83, 86/87, 95, 102/103, 111, 119, 123, 10 items; 3/1 pp. 126, 134/135, 139, 142, 150/151, 158, 162/163, 170, 175, chapter headings, 11 items. 3/2 Negative, p. 119. Illustration, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. [Stored separately]. A BLOW FOR LIBERTY by Stephen W. Meader, illustrated by Victor Mays (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965). 3/3 Illustrations, ink, pp. 16, 98/99. Sketch, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. DEAD RECKONING written and illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967). 3/4 Typescript, edited, 174 pp. 3/5-3/6 Illustrations, charcoal, 3/5 pp. 10, 17, 30, 45, 56, 66, 76, 94; 3/6 pp. 99, 110, 120, 130, 134, 150, 164, 174. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway, cover art by Victor Mays (Scribner's Scholastic paperback edition, 1969). 3/7 Sketch, watercolor and graphite, cover. FAST IRON written and illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1953). 4/1 Illustrations, scratchboard, pp. 17, 31, 117, 141, 5 items. Mounting board, "The Shanteyman" (no illustration). THE FIRST STEAMBOAT ON THE MISSISSIPPI by Sterling North, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962). 4/2 Negative proofs, title page spread, pp. 15-175, 31 items. Illustration, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. [Stored separately] FLATBOAT DAYS ON FRONTIER RIVERS by James McCague, illustrated by Victor Mays (Champaign, IL: Garrard, 1968). 4/3 Sketch, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. GRANDMA MOSES, FAVORITE PAINTER by Charles P. Graves, illustrated by Victor Mays (Champaign, IL: Garrard, 1969). 4/4 Sketches, graphite, pp. 6-94, 16 items. GREAT DAYS OF WHALING by Henry Beetle Hough, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958). 4/5-4/6 Illustrations, watercolor, 4/5 title page spread, pp. 19-87, 21 items; 4/6 pp. 95-177, chapter headings, 20 items. 4/7 Illustration, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. [Stored separately] LUMBERJACKS OF THE NORTH WOODS by Lillie Patterson, illustrated by Victor Mays (Champaign, IL: Garrard, 1967). 5/1 Sketch, charcoal and wash, p. 59. MARK TWAIN AND THE RIVER by Sterling North, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961). 5/2-5/4 Color separations, 5/2 title page, pp. 14/15, 19, 23, 27, 31, 35, 39, 46/47, 51, 59; 5/3 pp. 62/63, 67, 74, 82, 87, 90/91, 98, 102, 106/107; 5/4 pp. 110/111, 123, 131, 134/135, 142, 147, 155, 159, 163, 170/171, 179. 5/5 Illustration, graphite, endpapers. Sketch, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. Illustration, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., MAN OF PEACE by Lillie Patterson, illustrated by Victor Mays (Champaign, IL: Garrard, 1969). 5/6 Sketches, graphite and crayon, pp. 4, 11, 16, 20, 22, 27, 44, 50/51, 54, 63. MEET CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS by James T. de Kay, illustrated by Victor Mays (New York: Random House, 1968). 6/1-6/2 Color separations, 6/1 pp. ii-42, 13 items; 6/2 pp. 47-81, 12 items. 6/3 Sketch, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Ernest Hemingway, cover art by Victor Mays (Scribner's Scholastic paperback edition, 1968). 6/4 Sketch, opaque watercolor, cover. PIRATE ROCK by David Walker, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969). 6/5 Sketches, graphite, pp. 6-224, unpublished, 15 items. 6/6 Illustrations, ink, pp. 6-224, 14 items. 6/7 Illustration, watercolor, dust jacket. THE SLY ONE by Lockhart Amerman (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966). 6/8 Sketch, opaque watercolor, dust jacket, with annotatd overlay. TICONDEROGA, THE STORY OF A FORT by Bruce Lancaster, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1959). 7/1-7/4 Illustrations, watercolor, 7/1 title page, pp. 10, 14/15, 19, 23, 26, 31, 34/35, 38/39, 43, 10 items; 7/2 pp. 47, 55, 58/59, 63, 66, 71, 74, 78, 82, 86/87, 10 items; 7/3 pp. 91, 98, 106/107, 110, 119, 122, 127, 134, 139, 143, 10 items; 7/4 pp. 146, 151, 154, 159, 163, 166, 170, 175, chapter headings, 10 items. 7/5 Sketch, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. Illustration, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. UNDER THE PIRATE FLAG by Laurence Hyde, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965). 8/1 Illustration, ink, p. 72. Illustration, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. WASHINGTON AND THE REVOLUTION by Lynn Montross, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1959). 8/2 Maps with color separation overlays, pp. 29, 33 (overlay only), 43, 58, 74, 98, 104, 125, 134, 136, 162, 11 items. 8/3-8/4 Illustrations, opaque watercolor, 8/3 title page spread, pp. 18/19, 22, 24, 30/31, 38/39, 50/51, 67, 70/71, 95, 9 items. 8/4 pp. 102, 106/107, 110, 118, 122/123, 150/151, 154, 159, 163, 167, 170/171, 175, chapter headings, 14 items. 8/5 Illustration, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. WELLS FARGO by Ralph Moody, illustrated by Victor Mays (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961). 9/1-9/3 Color separations, 9/1 title page, pp. 14, 18/19, 23, 26, 27, 39, 42, 46, 10 items; 9/2 pp. 54/55, 58, 63, 66, 70/71, 79, 82/83, 86, 95, 98, 10 items; 9/3 pp. 106/107, 114, 122/123, 131, 138/139, 150/151, 155, 170/171, 175, 179, 10 items. 9/4 Illustrations, watercolor, chapter headings, 1 item. Illustration, opaque watercolor, dust jacket. WILL ROGERS, COWBOY PHILOSOPHER by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery, illustrated by Victor Mays (Champaign, IL: Garrard, 1970). 10/1 Sketches, graphite, pp. 6-94, 13 items. 10/2 Sketch, crayon, dust jacket. YANKEE DOODLE BOY by Joseph Plumb Martin, edited by George F. Scheer, with maps and illustrations by Victor Mays (New York: William R. Scott, 1964). 10/3 Illustrations, ink, pp. 130, 175, 183.

D. Magazines

10/4 Sketch, graphite, for "Hurricane," a short story by John Gottlob possibly published in Skipper magazine, undated.

E. Unidentified

CONFEDERATE BLOCKADE RUNNERS 10/5 Sketch, watercolor, dust jacket.

Processed: May 1992
Revised: June 2001

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content | Related Collections | Series & Subseries | Box Inventory
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The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
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(601) 266-4349
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