Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rollo the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Handwritten list of possible names for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Rudolph an Reginald are circled, and Rollo has an arrow pointing to itOne of our favorite Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer related items in the collection is the list of possible names for Rudolph that Robert May '26 made while he was writing the story. It is a bit tough to imagine Reginald the Red-Nosed Reindeer (which was a finalist) now that Rudolph is so ingrained in our psyche. A lot of us have always been partial to the other near-miss, Rollo. That has a nice ring: Rollo the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Title page to Rodolphus depicting a vignette of a boy climing on a fence in a rustic sceneSo, it was a bit of a shock when searching our collections for materials related to Franconia Notch we turned up Jacob Abbot's Rodolphus: A Franconia Story, "by the Author of the Rollo Books." The Rollo series was still very popular at the turn of the century, and it is hard to believe that young Robert May didn't encounter any of them as a child. Did he also read Rodolphus? Did the two names stick in his head just enough to make it onto his list and both reach the final choices? It is a stretch, but there is a chance. More likely it is just an odd coincidence. Still, it is fun to think that this book may have inspired, at least in name, May's legendary Rudolph.

To see May's list of names, ask for MS 630, Box 1. For Rodolphus, ask for Rare PS1000.A8 R54 1880. And here's another post about Rudolph!