Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Mystery Is Solved... or Maybe Not

Most series books have a few typos in them. Since the books were made and sold inexpensively, the books did not have much quality control. Usually the mistakes are not too bothersome. One exception is the glaring error—really, a discontinuity—that occurs in the final two volumes of the Brownie Scouts series.

When I first read the Brownie Scouts series, I was utterly flabbergasted that Veve McGuire's name changed to Vevi McGuire in volumes five and six. If the mistake had been in a few stray places, I would have been forgiving. However, the name is consistently Vevi every single time it is mentioned throughout all of volumes five and six. The name is Veve in all instances from volumes one through four.

It is truly bizarre. In the documents that I purchased, a letter from Cupples and Leon mentions the problem.
We have been proof-reading the Brownie Scout Series for errors in the text which we intend to correct in the next edition. We are distressed to find that in volumes five and six the name of one of the characters had been changed from Veve to Vevi McGuire.

Actually this should be corrected - however, if we tried to do so the last two volumes in the series would need to be reset. This would be a great expense and we wish to avoid doing so if we possibly can. Do you think you could write an explanation - a story about a little girl - perhaps a friend of yours - whose name was Vevi and spelled in this manner - and to please her you had made the change starting in volume five - if so this could be inserted just before page 1, it might serve sufficiently so that we will not need to reset those volumes.
The books were not reset nor was a message about the name inserted into either of the books, at least not in the copies which I own. When I first read this letter, I concluded that the publisher had made the mistake. Even so, I was still puzzled. Exactly how would the name Veve be changed to Vevi in every single instance throughout two books? I know little about the specific details of the publishing process, but I assume that the author's manuscript is used at the beginning of the process. If the name was spelled correctly in the manuscript, how would it accidentally get changed in every occurrence throughout the final published work? The name would get changed if whoever set the type decided to change it, but that would be odd.

Although the name change still bothered me, I did not think much more about it for around a week after reading the letter. When I began looking through my documents again, I happened upon the outline for The Brownie Scouts and Their Tulip Show, which was published as the sixth volume in the series, The Brownie Scouts at Windmill Farm. Prepare yourselves for this . . . it is really shocking . . . the name is Vevi in the outline! Mildred Wirt Benson was the person who inexplicably changed her character's name from Veve to Vevi. It was never the publisher's mistake.

I now know where the mistake was made, but I still do not understand why. Surely Benson had not forgotten how to spell her own character's name? Maybe she decided she liked Vevi better, but for the sake of consistency, one would think she would have left the name alone. Perhaps she was writing so many books at that time that she forgot how she had spelled the name. This is a mystery that will never be completely solved.

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