Loving Right Now: “The Little Prince: A New York Story”

When you seen the following illustration, would you describe it as:

a. a hat

b. a mountain

c. a fruit cake gone bad

d. a boa constrictor digesting an elephant

If you answered “d”, I have no need to convince you to run to the Morgan Library and Museum as quickly as possible to see The Little Prince: A New York Story exhibit, because you’ve probably already gone.  Twice.

But if you answered “a, b, or c”, well my friends, waste no more time flipping around the internet and go order this book.  Right now.

The Little Prince has long been a staple on my shelf, so adored in fact, my husband centered his marriage proposal around the story, and we read a passage from it during our wedding ceremony.  But what I didn’t know until visiting the exhibit was just how tied the story was to NYC (fun fact: the original manuscript had six references to New York in it).

Saint-Expery left his beloved France to come live with his wife in NYC on the last day of 1940.  It was in New York that his friend Elizabeth Reynal prompted him to turn the waifish figure that Saint-Expery often doodled in notebooks and letters into the character of a children’s book.  And he did just that, in his apartment in the heart of the city, 240 Central Park South.  In fact, it was this building right here where the Little Prince magic happened:

Reynal’s husband was a partner at the literary firm Reynal & Hitchcock, which of course is the firm that published The Little Prince in 1943, in both French and English (this timeless book didn’t get published in France until three years later…!)

And like any good writer of his time, Saint-Expery was smitten with his New York muse, Silvia Hamilton.  We learn on the exhibit’s tour that the fox character in the story is actually modeled closely after her (lesson learned: don’t take the time to tame something/someone unless you’re in it for the long haul, people.)  The story goes that when the book was finished in 1943 and Saint-Exupery was running back to Europe to rejoin his air force squadron, he tossed a rumpled paper bag onto Hamilton’s entryway table.  In it contained 140 pages of Le Petit Prince and its drawings, with the parting words from Saint-Exupery, “I’d like to give you something splendid, but this is all I have.”

While Hamilton may have preferred something a bit more sparky (a ring? a commitment from the one she loved, perhaps!?), I think we can all agree that this was the second most splendid thing she could have been given.  And certainly the most splendid for the rest of us.


WHAT: The Little Prince: A New York Story
WHERE: The Morgan Library and Museum
225 Madison Avenue
New York, New York
WHEN: Through April 27th, 2014
NOTE: Admission is free on Fridays from 7pm to 9pm.

What are you loving right now?  Share below!


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen



This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.




18 Responses to “Loving Right Now: “The Little Prince: A New York Story””

  1. Nancie says:

    I did choose d, but not because I have ever read the book. Now that I’ve read your post, I think that I’ll have to get a copy. Thanks for the introduction to both the book and its author, and for linking up to Travel Photo Thursday this week.
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  2. actually I remember reading the book when I was tiny…and I THOUGHT it was an English author (of course)
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  3. ben says:

    I really chose an answer before looking to the image and I never expect that it was a boa with an elephant inside. LOL
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  4. Marcia says:

    Hmm, didn’t know this either. Glad she didn’t throw the rumpled paper bag in the trash. Nice gift, eh?
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  5. Leigh says:

    Lovely blog post and I think the eye on the snake helped to give away the answer.
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  6. I knew what the answer was without having to look at the choices. It’s been ages since I read The Little Prince, but that picture has always stuck in my mind. I didn’t realize that Saint-Exupery ever lived anywhere but France. I wish I was in NYC so that I could see this exhibit — and eat that yummy sounding meal.
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    • Used York City says:

      I LOVED that the Morgan Library’s cafe did a special meal just for the exhibit, just had to snap a picture of the menu;-)

  7. I had no idea either that there was a link to New York, but I got the answer D straight away!! Fascinating stuff!
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  8. Muza-chan says:

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  9. wow. I didn’t know that about this book– being tied to NYC. That’s news.. and makes it worth reading again!
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    • Used York City says:

      Yeah I was completely shocked, too! I always pictured him holed up in a quaint little Paris apartment writing it!;-)