|Anna Laughlin as Dorothy|
The book is signed by Anna Laughlin twice on the front free end paper. The first signature reads: N. Y. City - S. H. P. May 11, 1902 - Property of Anna S. Laughlin. We don't know who or what "S. H. P." is. Eric chooses to think it is the person that gave her the book. Interestingly, this date of May 11, 1902, is before the show even opened in Chicago, so Anna clearly got the book just before boarding the Chicago train. The Wizard of Oz premiered in Chicago on June 16, 1902.
Anna Laughlin was born October 11, 1885, in Sacramento, California. So she was only sixteen when she got this book and became the first Dorothy. The book is signed a second time with Anna's married name. She married a diamond importer named Dwight Monroe just as she was finishing up her run in The Wizard of Oz. They had one child, Lucy Monroe, who was born on October 23, 1906. Lucy went on to become a popular radio singer. Anna Laughlin died on March 6, 1937.
This book contains one other curiosity. It has Denslow's "Poppy Field" endpapers which were designed for the 1903 Bobbs-Merrill second edition. They seem to have been added to this otherwise first-state Hill printing. Was this a repair job done by Laughlin herself? Did she just adore the new Poppy Field endpapers - the Poppy Scene was a high-point in the show - and get a set from Denslow? Were the Poppy Field endsheets possibly given away as a promotion or on display in the lobby of the theatre in 1903? We'll probably never know. Where this book has been since it left the hands of the first Dorothy Gale is unknown - and how it got so trashed is uncertain. But it has a good home now.