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Validity of book questioned by UA Press 20 years ago, letter reveals

By Stephanie Corns
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 16, 1999
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While UA Press officials continue to defend the validity of the manuscripts used in the 1976 book I Married Wyatt Earp, a recent letter revealed the company questioned the text more than 20 years ago.

A 1972 letter from the University of Arizona Press' former associate editor reveals that the press was aware the book was not based solely on the memoirs of Josephine Marcus Earp, Wyatt Earp's wife of nearly a half century.

Glenn Boyer, editor of Josephine Marcus Earp's "memoirs," writes that he used two autobiographical accounts, the Cason and Clum manuscripts, as the book's basis.

However, the Clum manuscript and Boyer's presentation interviews and letters as part of the work irked critics and former University of Arizona Press editor Kit Scheifele.

In 1972, Scheifele wrote to Boyer, "in your earlier draft of the Introduction, you made clear that the Ms (manuscript) you have presented is not solely the first-person writing of Mrs. Earp, and that you have written a first-person account based on her memoirs and other material as well. In your new Introduction you no longer make this clear."

Although the cover touts itself as containing the "recollections of Josephine Sara Marcus Earp," Boyer admits in the back of the book to using letters and interviews to merge the two manuscripts.

"He states in the book that he uses a variety of sources," said Christine Szuter, interim director of the University of Arizona Press.

But the published version of I Married Wyatt Earp presents the book as a memoir, making no mention of the letters and interviews that contributed to the text in the introduction.

"I'll go by any definition from any dictionary that you want to use for 'memoir', and defy that that matches Boyer's use of the word," said Allen Barra, author of Inventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many Legends, a book questioning the validity of Boyer's sources.

Boyer, who declined comment, defies critics on his web site and lashes out at a historian who wrote, "the book was 40% Josephine Earp and 60% Boyer." Boyer retorted - "the book is 100 percent Boyer."

Szuter maintains that the book's integrity is not being questioned by the press.

"What we do have is a sworn affidavit that the Cason manuscript is authentic," she said. "We do not investigate the first-hand sources of a book. We rely on peer review.

"The press' role is to make peer-reviewed works available to a community of readers, who then can reach their own conclusions in matters of dispute," Szuter said.

The book, which is in its 12th printing, has sold nearly 36,000 copies and raked in close to $114,000 since first being published.

I Married Wyatt Earp has sold more copies than any other Earp book, with the exception of Stuart Lake's 1931 Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall.