Exhibit Celebrates New York Roots of ‘The Little Prince’

The Little PrinceA new exhibit opening January 24 at the Morgan Library traces the New York history of the classic children’s novel “The Little Prince,” written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on Long Island in 1942.

The exhibit, called “The Little Prince: A New York Story,” features 35 original watercolors and 25 pages (out of 140) drawn from Saint-Exupéry’s original handwritten manuscript, offering insights into the author’s creative process. Visitors can expect to discover forgotten sections of the novel, pages scrawled with Saint-Exupéry’s edits and cross-outs as well as the author’s unedited drawings.

The original text of “The Little Prince” contains multiple references to New York City, particularly to Rockefeller Center and Long Island. Though these passages were edited out before the novel’s publication, their presence in the original manuscript is a reminder that Saint-Exupéry was living in New York when he penned his most famous work.

Saint Exupéry’s New York Blues

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry arrived in New York City on the evening of Dec. 31, 1940, six months after France fell to German forces. He was unhappy in the huge, overwhelming city; he felt disillusioned living so far from France and the front. Sensing his unhappiness, Saint-Exupéry’s editor Curtice Hitchcock proposed that he write a story. Out at dinner with Hitchcock one night, Saint-Exupéry began drawing an image of the Little Prince on a napkin. Hitchcock  wasted no time and began searching for a house far from the tumult of Manhattan, where Saint-Exupéry could escape and devote his time to writing his novel.

Saint-Exupéry found the perfect getaway in Northport, a small, calm village in Long Island. It was there that the author imagined the many whimsical adventures of the Little Prince. He scribbled them down in a lined notebook and sketched in the margins. Saint-Exupéry’s wife Consuelo would later call this home “the Little Prince’s house.” Saint-Exupéry remembered it as “a refuge, an ideal place to write.”

To learn more about “The Little Prince” and its history in New York, visit The Little Prince: A New York Story, January 24-April 27 at the Morgan Library.

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