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Endurance Writing for Children

Endurance Writing for Children:

Climbing trees, building dens and creating fantasy are common childhood pleasures and adventures. Children’s authors love to write about them. Yet only a select number of authors have managed to capture generations of children with their stories.

Classic children’s authors like Edith Nesbit, J. R.R Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and C.S. Lewis are writers who have mastered the skill. They cleverly created a world of magic and inverted logic that was entirely their own. Their literature is about children not for children. A way of keeping their inner child alive for the authors. As C.S. Lewis comments, When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. Yet adults secretly also like to read these children’s tales with bedtime reading rituals being the excuse!

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.TolkienThe trick of engaging the reader into a journey of childhood adventure is an art that J.R. R Tolkien perfected. Sometimes he writes as a guide to the reader and sometimes he seems to be only a step ahead of the reader. The suspense of the adventure is compelling and artfully employed in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Successful children’s literature must also never shy awThe Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbitay from the darker side of life. One of Edith Nesbit’s most popular stories portray the practical and fantastical side of childhood adventures. The Enchanted Castle describes the ghastly tales of creatures in the dark in a magical nightmare. She is not afraid of describing things as they are, including frightening experiences.

C.S. Lewis was a master at engaging adults as well as children into his literature. As he comments,  In my own first story I had described at length what I thought a rather fine high tea given by a hospitable faun to the little girl who was my heroine. A man, who has children of his own, said, “Ah, I see how you got to that. If you want to please grown-up readers you give them sex, so you thought to yourself, ‘That won’t do for children, what shall I give them instead? I know! The little blighters like plenty of good eating.” In reality, however, I myself like eating and drinking. I put in what I would have liked to read when I was a child and what I still like reading now that I am in my fifties. Lewis’s  tales of a group of children getting drawn into a world of fantasy adventure in The Chronicles of Narnia remain as appealing to adults as to children.Alice-Adventures-In-Wonderland-Lewis-Carroll-First-Edition-1881 (2)

Writing children’s literature is often best developed when it grows out of a story that has been told by the author to a particular child. Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland adventures were directly meant for Alice Liddell, his child friend. Beatrix Potter’s books were initially written as letters to the children she was governed. The infamous and enduring  Babar books of Jean De Brunhof were started with his recording his bedtime stories to his young sons.

Certainly creating a writing style that encourages generations of readers to keep turning to the books for childhood reading and nostalgia is a talent. C.S. Lewis comments,  I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last. There are certainly a few authors who have achieved that long lasting attraction.

The-Tale-Of-Peter-Rabbit-Beatrix-Potter-1st-edition-5th-printing (15)The Story of Babar First Edition by Jean De Brunhoff Preface by A. A. Milne

To see more first edition books for children go here

 

 

 

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Childers- A Rare Thriller for Collectors

Childers – A Rare Thriller for Collectors

Collectors of spy thrillers might struggle to build up a collection if they start with one of the classics, The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers. It was the last and only spy novel he wrote! However, not to have his book in your collection would be to miss a trick. It is credited with being the forerunner of adventure novels that are based on facts yet remain true thrillers.

Published in 1903, the book predicted the threat of war with Germany and called for British preparedness. The thriller was set within a plot of a yachting and duck shooting trip for two young men which turns into an adventurous investigation into a German plot to invade Great Britain. It is credited as a a precursor of factual spy novels such as John Buchan, Ian Fleming and Ken Follet.

Erskine Childers (25 June 1870 – 24 November 1922)Erskine Childers The Riddle of the Sands

He certainly knew the military facts of the time. His first book, In the Ranks of the C. I. V. describes his accounts in the Boer War whilst he was serving with the Honorable Artillery Company in Southern Africa. His long descriptive letters were sent home to his sisters. The public’s interest in the war was growing and the letters were published in book format to some success in 1902. Childers then went on to collaborate with his colleague, Basil Williams, on a more formal book, The HAC in South Africa, which described the history of the regiment’s part in the campaign.

However Childers must have known there was a novel in him working on a script for The Riddle of the Sands since 1901. He had been a sailing enthusiast for many years owning several vessels since 1893. He sailed extensively across the channel and even to the Baltic, Nordenhay and the Frisian Islands with his brother. These wide sailing experiences along the German coast plus his wartime forays provided essential  factual material for his adventure novel.

The Riddle of the SandsThe Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

The novel was published with wide acclaim and it has never gone out of print. The significance of the book is even more intriguing considering the context of the life and time of the author. The novel depicts patriotic characters who perform courageous struggles for king and country. Yet Childer’s mother was Irish and he had always been interested in the cause of Irish Home Rule. He took this up seriously after WW1. Although Riddle was an instant bestseller, Childers never wrote another novel. Instead he concentrated on military strategy manuals before entering politics and eventually becoming a staunch Irish nationalist smuggling guns to Ireland in his sailing yacht. He was executed by a firing squad in 1922, by order of the Irish Free State.

Childers describes the novel as  “… a story with a purpose” written from “a patriot’s natural sense of duty”. It is certainly a book of significance. In 2003 many centenary editions were produced: the Observer included it on its list of “100 Greatest Novels of All Time” and The Telegraph noted it as the third best novel of all time. It remains a hugely influential book in the spy genre – and certainly one to add to any collection of first edition spy books!

To view our first edition of the book go here

For more first edition spy books go to Ian Fleming or Alistair Maclean

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Ian Fleming’s venture into children’s literature

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Ian Fleming’s venture into children’s literature

It is well known that Ian Fleming was the author of the action packed adventures of the 007 spy, James Bond. Yet Ian Fleming also turned his hand to writing the children’s adventure story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: the tale about the magical car and the eccentric inventor’s adventures. This was the book that inspired the successful 1968 Dick Van Dyke film and which remains a popular children’s story today.Thunderball-Ian-Fleming-First-Edition-2

It was rather unfortunate health circumstances that led Fleming to veer away from writing adult adventure. He was taken ill with a heart attack in 1963 which necessitated a period of convalescence in Hove. During this time he was given a children’s book by Beatrix Potter to inspire him to think about writing down the bedtime tales that Fleming read to his son, Casper. The stories were of fast motor cars and adventure – very like the James Bond stories. This seemed like an ideal project for Fleming to take on and he attacked the writing with gusto. He loved fast cars – just look at the Bond car pursuits – so it is little wonder that his childhood story would involve action and chase.

Flemings bedtime story was based around Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This was was a composite car Fleming devised from his own Standard Tourer which he had driven in Switzerland and a 1920’s aero-enginered racing car built by Count Louis Zborwski that Fleming had seen at a racing track. Apparently the sound it made inspired the name of his car.Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

Fleming wrote three books around Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Preliminary drawings by the Daily Mail cartoonist, Willy Fawkes, were not permitted as many of Fleming’s works were also serialised in the Daily Express. Finally his publishers commissioned  the 1963 winner of the Kate Greenway Medal, John Burningham, to illustrate the book. The iconic images of the magical car are now classic.Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming

Fleming’s mantra was “Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes’, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.”  He applied this to his Chitty Chitty Bang Bang story as much as he did to his James Bond adventures – with similar success. Unfortunately Fleming did not live to see the publication of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. He suffered a further heart attack on 11 August 1964 and died in the early morning of the following day— on his son Caspar’s twelfth birthday. The book was published two months after his death.

Rare and Antique Books holds the first edition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – see more here

 

 

 

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Collecting Ian Fleming First Edition Books

Collecting Ian Fleming First Edition Books:

Fleming’s Bond books are perhaps the most popular and iconic thriller series ever produced. There remains some attraction in identifying with the character and his lifestyle – how many men don’t secretly desire to be Bond at least in some small way! The James Bond “product” has generated all manner of associated gadgets and memorabilia, yet a Bond first edition book holds genuine authenticity and cudos over other merchandise. It would be hard to believe there are any around the world not proudly displayed in cabinets or on shelves.

With the launch on Monday 26th October of the new James Bond film, Spectre, focus on the collecting Ian Fleming’s first edition Bond books will be re-ignited. They have always remained consistently appealing to collectors of modern fiction but here are some interesting facts for the novice.

  • Ian Fleming only published fourteen James Bond novels so collecting them is a manageable task.  Anyone starting off a collection already has some boundaries set so there is no chance of getting carried away and going off piste!
  • Dr-No-Ian-Fleming-First-Edition-Collection-2Identifying the novels is relatively straightforward and so is an ideal way to start off collecting modern literature. Jonathan Cape published all the UK versions of the novels so recognising the publishing details are relatively clear. They should all say Jonathan Cape on the title page. Also they should state “First Published …” with the correct year on the back of the title page. Any second or later impressions will be clearly stated.
  • James-Bond-first-edition-collection-Ian-Fleming-Live-and-let-dieIdeally a good collection will consist of books with their original dust jackets and some of the fun in collecting them is to seek out such books. Beware of jackets from later editions being placed on original books. As a rule of thumb, knowing the sequence of books in the series and then checking to make sure a later book is not mentioned on the jacket of an earlier book, should help determine whether it is the correct jacket for the book or not. Identifying a first edition dust jacket can also be done by checking that no reviews from newspapers or journalists are included on the dust jacket flaps. Later impressions of the book will naturally have these reviews included. Those that have retained their pricing on the front flap are called ‘not price-clipped’ and will be more valuable. The only other point to note is that “Live and Let Die” had three ‘issues’ of the first edition, first impression. The first and most valuable edition has no reference to the jacket designer at all; the second edition has the reference centered in the white space below the text on the inside front flap of the jacket; for the third edition it is placed just below the text. They are all valuable books but decrease in cost from first to third.
  • James Bond novels can be relatively affordable especially for the later books. It is certainly best to start with the more recent and affordable publications. First editions become more expensive as you start moving toward the earlier books in the series. Of course, as ever, condition is the key but even poor condition copies of the earlier books can fetch a reasonable sum. Fine and pristine copies can be worth several thousand pounds but it is perfectly possible to build up a good collection of reasonable books priced at a few hundred pounds each.
  • James Bond books remain a beautifully designed set of books which look great on You-Only-Live-Twice-Ian-Fleming-1964-First-Editionthe shelf. Everyone has their favourite jacket design. The dust jacket designs by Kenneth Lewis, Pat Marriotand, of course, Richard Chopping, all have special attributes that set them apart from each other. Choppping’s  Trompe L’Oeil style was distinctive and menacing. He could even make a toad with a captured dragonfly seem menacing as he did for “You Only Live Twice.”
  • Collecting James Bond novels is especially fun when a new Bond film comes out! The release of the Casino Royale film in 2006 considerably increased the sales of the book of the same name. What was additionally great for book collectors was that the dust jacket for the book inspired the opening sequence of the film.
  • Casino-Royale-Ian-Fleming-rare-authentificationAdding to the fun of collecting Ian Fleming’s novel is the hunting down of the earlier copies of the Bond novels. These earlier titles were initially published in smaller quantities. The first novel, Casino Royale, had a print run of only 4,700 copies. Many of these went to libraries so were well used and invariably lost their jackets. The later books, such as Octopussy, had a run of 50,000 so great copies of these editions are more easily affordable.

Once started, a first edition collection of Ian Fleming books can become compelling! Finding a finer and better copy of a James Bond book is the new challenge. The subtleties of the condition of the book and dust jacket become more intense and it becomes a little like building up a fine wine collection! If you start on the quest of collecting Ian Fleming books we wish you good luck in your adventure! The thrill of completing the collection is amazing.

James-Bond-first-edition-collection-Ian-FlemingRare and Antique books holds the complete collection of James Bond books. See more Ian Fleming novels here.