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Artist and Author- an unusual book collection?

Artist and Author- an unusual book collection?

Artist Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. EliotA bibliophile can often build a rare book collection around an author or topic. There are so many to choose from! However, how about a collection of authors who are also artists? There are surprisingly number of authors who have dabbled in art and in fact are as talented with the paintbrush as they are with the pen. Collecting first editions books of authors who have illustrated their covers might make an interesting and rare range of books. Here are a few authors and books that might go into such a collection.

 

Rudyard Kipling:  Kipling was the son of an art teacher and the nephew of two of the greatest late Victorian painters, Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Sir Edward Poynter. Brought up in this artistic environment it is not surprising that Kipling developed artistic confidence and skills. Many of his animal and jungle adventure stories included his illustrations. One of the finest examples is Kipling’s eclectic mix of drawings is in his children’s collection, Just So Stories. The illustrations demonstrate the rich artistic influences of Aubrey Beardsley, Japanese printing and European and American folk art. A brilliant combination of artistic and literary flair.

J. R. R. Tolkien: artist The Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienTolkien developed his artistic talent with as much attention and imaginative rigour as he did his writing. He enjoyed working on visual mediums of drawings and illustrations for his books and for his own children. A collection of 200 reproductions of his watercolour, pencil, and ink works is included in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull’s collection,  J. R. R. Tolkien, artist and Illustrator. Tolkien’s obsessive accuracy of detail are reflected his attention to the maps and imaginative illustrations of his books of Middle Earth, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Publications of his novels were often delayed by his characteristic amendments and alterations in order to satisfy his artistic and literary perfection. Yet his work remains a true example of a great techniques of writing and illustration.

Evelyn Waugh: RTIST Vile Bodies by Evelyn WaughWaugh utilised artistic skills to reflect his black humour and irony in his publications. During his university years he contributing to his university’s magazines, Cherwell and Isis with his cartoons. After graduating he contributed to a friend’s prank exhibition with a painting attributed to a spoof German artist, Bruno Hat, “in the modern French style”. His distinctive dust jackets for Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies are iconic. In addition, he composed drawings for a limited edition of his third novel, Black Mischief, published in 1932.

 

Jack Kerouac: An avid artist from a young age, Jack Kerouac left a significant amount of artistic work on his death. In fact so much that an exhibition of his work , ‘Kerouac: Beat Painting’, was displayed to much acclaim at the Museo Maga, Gallarte in 2018. Kerouac enjoyed the artistic as well as literary aspect of a book publication. He was deeply disappointed with the dust jacket of his first book, The Town and City, saying it’s as “dull as the title and the photo backflap”. It was published in 1950. He ensured that the dust jacket of his next book, On the Road, was more reflective of his personality. After five years of discussions with the publishers on 1957 his most famous novel was released with his own design for the dust jacket.

Finally, a collection of authors whose literary work was suitably illustrated would not be complete without the infamous book by T. S. Eliot, His Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, contains fourteen whimsical poems inspired by the English tradition of nonsense poetry. His lifelong affection for cats is clearly demonstrated with his playful and sentimental drawings for his cover of the 1939 first edition.

Or maybe this is a good starter book for any collection of Artist and Author!

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A rare publisher’s tale

The Years by Virginia Woolf DJ

A rare publisher’s tale:

It is not often that the publishers are featured in the consideration of influences to literary movements. However, The Hogarth Press has a unique place in the history and development of modernism and literature of the twentieth century.

The Hogarth Press was born out of an ideal to provide a hobby for a writer with poor mental health who was sensitive to criticism from demanding publishers. The author in question was Virginia Woolf and her husband, Leonard, felt that the distraction of bookbinding and ability to publish whatever his wife wished would be good for her. Little did they know that what started as a pastime would lead to the release of some of the most significant publications of the time.

The printing press was operated from their dining room at their home, Hogarth House, London from where the press acquired its name. The Woolf couple produced their first 31 page pamphlet, Two Stories, in July 1917. Written by Leonard and Virginia and illustrated by their friend the artist, Dora Carrington, the 150 first edition copies were sold to their friends and acquaintances.

The Woolf couple had an active source of literary material for their publications from their loose circle of writer and artist friends known as the Bloomsbury Group. These like-minded collection of friends and relatives met regularly for lively discussions that, on reflection, were to profoundly influence 20th century literary works. Notable characters of the gatherings included the artists, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant, the writers E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey and the economist John Maynard Keynes. Nothing was off limits for the Bloomsbury Group and their topics of conversation challenged the norms of sexuality, politics and social justice of the time.

The Woolf’s freedom and ability to recognise this challenging new literary talent, plus their reduced overheads went a long way to help drive forward the publication of significant literary material. Having their printing press to hand certainly helped to enable these new writers and artists to get their works to the public. Being free to publish without commercial concern allowed them to release rare pamphlet series from unknown authors. Yet the Woolf’s also recognised emerging talent and in its first five years the Hogarth Press published works by T. S Eliot, E.M Forster, Clive Bell and Sigmund Freud. Their bestsellers, Virginia’s Orlando (1928), Vita Sackville-West’s The Edwardians (1930), T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1930) sold around 30,000 copies in the first six months of publication.

In 1919 they published Virginia’s Kew Gardens which received positive reviews from the Times Literary Supplement. Their hand press was just not capable of fulfilling the numbers of orders required and a second edition of 500 copies was produced by the printer Richard Madley.  A corner had been turned and the Woolf’s recognised the need to step into commercial publishing. They continued to hand print smaller works up until 1932 however, they employed Madley for larger orders, sold books directly to the public and invested in a larger printing press. As demand increased the employment of staff was necessary although assistants and managers never seemed to stay long!

Eventually John Lehmann stayed the course and in 1938 he bought out Virginia’s shares in the business. Lehmann maintained the spirit of furthering a new generation of authors and published works such as W.H. Auden, Cecil Day Lewis and Stephen Spender. The Hogarth Press was eventually bought out by the publishing house Chatto and Windus in 1946. The Hogarth Press certain left a rare and significant contribution to the publication of 20th century modern editions.

Browse books by Virginia Woolf

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The Queen of Detective Novels – Agatha Christie

Detective writers love a puzzle. And collecting Agatha Christie books can be as confusing as her detective novels! Occasional Christie novels fetch vast sums of money yet remaining catalogued novels sell for a varied and sometime perplexingly low sums.4.50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie

Of course, the length of Christie’s successful career means that her many books were published several decades, making the numerous choice of first editions an issue – the elusive and rare publication is hard to find. Over her lifetime Agatha Christie wrote sixty-six detective novels and fourteen short story collections, with arguably two of the best-known crime characters in literary history, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Her editions have been translated into at least one hundred and three languages. The sales of her books have achieved around two billion copies worldwide and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world’s most-widely published books (after Shakespeare’s works and the Bible). Her books sold worldwide so publishers quickly sought to produce her books, so there are numerous first editions to be collected by a Christie enthusiast.  Of course, Christie was also the author of the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap.

One of the most valuable Christie’s novels were her early publications of the early 1920’s, including the The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Secret Adversity and The Man in the Brown Suit. The Bodley Head imprint for Collins was the publisher of the books. Christie had to work hard to convince publishers to take on her first book with five publishers rejecting the manuscript. Interestingly, the Canadian edition, published by Ryerson Press in 1920, actually precedes the first British edition of The Mysterious Affair. However, no doubt Christies’ scarcest work would be ‘The Mystery on the Links’ published by London, The Bodley Head in 1923. From 1926 Christie was under contract to Collins and the The Collins Crime Club which ran from May 1930 to April 1994. All except six of her books were published under this Crime Club imprint and these editions remain popular and collectable with famous titles of Murder of the Orient Express and The Murder at the Vicarage attracting considerable interest. The wide geographical range of publishers may affect prices and value of a first edition. An early edition of the American publisher York, Dodd, Mead and Company in New York may fetch lower prices than a UK publication.Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

Yet Agatha Christie’s popularity makes for an enduring interest in her life and publication history. Collecting Agatha Christie first edition books with an author’s provenance or personal history can add significant value to the books and make for a rare volume. In addition, any first edition jacket will add considerable interest to her works. It seems that a Christie collector will have to indulge in a little more investigation – something that detective novelist would welcome!

Browse early editions of Agatha Christie novels.

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Charles Dodgson and Lewis Carroll intertwined

Charles Dodgson, or rather Lewis Carroll, is primarily known as the author of the children’s classics, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Yet any collection of his works would be incomplete without recognising his expertise in the field of mathematics. In fact many of his fictional works combine his skills of creating fanciful stories and challenging logical and mathematical problems.

Charles L. Dodgson (1832-98) was the mathematical lecturer at Christ Church College at Oxford University, UK for twenty-five years. Teaching and simplifying geometry and mathematical concepts was an issue that greatly interested Dodgson and he was keen to develop an accessible approach to the subject.An Elementary Treatise on Determinants by Charles Dodgson Lewis Carroll

One of his earliest papers was published in 1866 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London concerning a method for evaluating determinants called the condensation method. His paper documented a new method to calculate determinants that was based on Jacobi’s Theorem. The first edition of the book was published in 1867 under the title of An Elementary Treatise on Determinants and is one of Dodgson’s most academic and also rare works. See our copy https://rareandantiquebooks.com/first-edition-books/elementary-treatise-determinants-charles-dodgson/

His later mathematical publications had a lighter feel. From his tutoring and coaching came the first of many published mathematical pamphlets. His style was to prepare stories, puzzles and other literary styles to explain mathematical concepts in a popular way. For example, although the play Euclid and his Modern Rivals (1879) was written as fiction, it is a defense of Euclid’s Elements as the best textbook for geometry scholars, an issue of contention at the time. In his introduction to the book, his skill at intertwining a playful approach to mathematics appeals to the non-scientific audience. It was around this time Dodgson invented his pen name as he thought he should distinguish his two types of writing, mathematical and fiction, yet he continued to intertwine these two themes in his future books.

A Tangled Tale by Lewis Carroll

 

One of Dodgson’s characteristic ways to encourage the public to become involved in his games was the inclusion of puzzles in popular magazines. For example, between 1880 and 1885 he published A Tangled Tale as a serial in the Monthly Packet. Dodgson used “knots” to signify the difficulty of the one, two or three problems it featured. His comments on the solution to the puzzle would follow in the subsequent issue often with amusing thoughts from the public on the problem. The book of The Tangled Tale was released in 1885 by Alexander Macmillan of Macmillan, who published all but two of his books over the thirty-five years of their friendship. Dodgson also presented several first editions of his books to public libraries, as with this copy of Symbolic Logic, donated to the Wigan Free Library in 1896. https://rareandantiquebooks.com/first-edition-books/charles-dodgson-symbolic-logic/

Dodgson’s love of making puzzles accessible to others is indicated with his publication of Doublets. A new puzzle was introduced into the magazine Vanity Fair in 1879 and Dodgson published a guide to the game with a glossary of suitable words to be used for future puzzles. This word game is now recognised as a popular brain teaser today.

The Game of Logic Lewis Carroll First EditionIn The Game of Logic Dodgson offers creative mental play to teach the fundamentals of logic and spatial representation of logical statements. He uses colourful ways of demonstrating the serious mathematical statements by using counters on a board in certain ways to denote cakes with certain characteristics (tasty, non-tasty, fresh, not-fresh). Dodgson employed his typical light-hearted approach to explanations using humour and absurdities to make a point as in, the “game” is for at least one player.

Of course Lewis Carroll, Charles Dodgson, is best known for his fictional books of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1872). Yet he managed to carve out a rare place in literary history by combining his interests in mathematics and fiction. His ability to seamlessly include challenging logic and entertainment have, over time, ensured a consistent appeal to readers and collectors alike .

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What’s in the signature?

What’s in the signature?

A question often asked about rare and first edition books. Of course the answer is not as straight forward as it might seem. To put it simply, the interest of a signature in a book depends on who it is and what else is included in the writing.

Of course the “who” goes without saying. It has to be the author or illustrator who is well known to add value to a book.  And factor in whether the person is still alive or was a serial signer or not. For example, a signed Bram Stoker or Rudyard Kipling book is both of value due to the fact both are long deceased and both signed very few of their books.

Signatures of people associated with a book’s film adaptation have interest too, so a first edition Ian Fleming book signed by the Bond actor, whilst not worth as much as one signed by Fleming himself, would still add considerable value to the book. Even other actors who featured in the film add a degree of interest, with the likes of Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore from Goldfinger) leading the list.

In the book world there are so many sorts of signatures. And there seems to be a hierarchy of sorts among it all.

One level of the hierarchy is the signature written with nothing else and this can add interest to a book. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis Signed Kingsley Amis signed books are a good example. This simple signature of an author or illustrator maybe more valuable if it is dated and written directly on the pages of the book. Book plates or tipped in signatures are considered less desirable. Owners sometimes like to write their own name on a book and occasionally this can be of interest to a book collector if the person is on interest. Even a bookplate of a related and interesting character can add value to a book.

Nest step up in the ladder is the inscription signature. This is the signature which has been written especially for a particular person and naturally is especially interesting if that person is well known themselves. Of course a dedication inscription that is written to an unknown person may actually detract from a books value.

Any story behind a signature can add interest and value to a book and is called an association copy. This is where the author or illustrator’s signature is inscribed to someone associated with the writer. Links of association could be family members, other famous authors, politicians or anyone of note. Our ephemera within  Now We Are Six depicting connections between H. G. Wells and A. A. Milne is a fascinating find. Occasionally the person who collects the books may become an association of interest. These can tell a story, delving into a piece of literary history so this will always add value and interest to any bibliophile. Finding a date alongside the writing may pin point the interest to a significant event. Now We Are Six with signed ephemera by A.A. Milne & H.G Wells

A dedication signature is the ultimate level of signatures and can add significant value and attention to a bibliophile. Finding a signature dedicated to the person to whom the book was written for is quite special and rare to locate. Example

The worth of a signature will naturally be dependent slightly on market forces – the more generous an author is in signing their publication the less value the signature might have. Books of famous authors who rarely scribbled their names on their books are sought after items example. An author whose books are highly collectable will obviously attract more attention (usually if signed or not!).

For identification purposes the more that is written the better to confirm the authenticity of the writing and establishing the accuracy of the writer is best done through a specialist service to avoid costly mistakes.

Such a wealth of choices of signed books makes the bibliophile’s search for what’s in the signature of the next book such an interesting and enduring task.

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Collection of Winnie the Pooh Books

Winnie the Pooh, that well known little bear is again making publicity. The film, Goodbye Christopher Robin, is being released this October. What a great opportunity to revisit the fascinating story of the author behind the beloved classic children’s character.Winnie the Pooh, First Edition by A. A. Milne

And a chance to remind a bibliophile of the appeal and value in acquiring a set of the Winnie The Pooh volumes. There is certainly plenty of scope for building up a varied collection of books along this theme.

A. A Milne spent his early literary career writing suspense novels and plays yet he presented the character of the lovable bear to his publishers, Methuen in the mid 1920’s. They agreed to publish his book of poetry, When We Were Very Young, in 1924 and the rest, as we know, is history.

Winnie the Pooh quickly followed and was published in late 1926 with great success. The third book, Now We Are Six, was released in 1927 with a run of 50,000 trade copies. It success was immediate achieving more sales of the previous two books in just two months. The House at Pooh Corner, 1928 was Milne’s final book in the series and one in which he introduced the character of Tigger. With the public’s knowledge that this was the last in the series the publication of 75,000 copies sold out quickly and Tigger became a popular new character. The books with their iconic illustrations by the talented Ernest H. Shepard have remained highly sought after collectors items.A. A. Milne When We Were Very Young

Collectors of these books need to look out for particular markers of their first edition status. The first book of poems, When We Were Very Young, has blue boards with gilt character illustrations. It has no “page ix” marked and is distinctive from the second printing copies which do have that printed on the contents page. A first edition and first printing copy is the clearly the rarest of the four titles and in a fine condition with a dust jacket it can fetch a four figure sum.

Milne’s next book, Winnie the Pooh, features Christopher Robin and Pooh as the central characters in a series of stories in their own right. Copies with immaculate green cloth bindings and E. H. Shepard’s stamped gilt illustrations of Pooh and Christopher Robin are sought after items. First edition copies are distinguished by the yellow pictorial dust jacket and 117th thousand printed on the back flap with 7/6 net pricing on the spine. The book has distinctive illustrations of the map of the “100 Aker Wood” on the front free pages.

Milne wrote Now We Are Six as a collection of 35 verse poems. He dedicates the book to Christopher Robin’s childhood friend, Anne Darlington stating, “now she is seven and because she is so speshal.” The UK edition is bound in maroon cloth with the typical gilt illustrations. Likewise, the pink endpapers feature E. H. Shepard’s illustrations. The first edition dust jacket is very pale and a fine copy is hard to find. Any copy with a provenance is clearly a bonus. Our copy with playful comments between the authors, H. G. Wells and A. A. Milne, is a lovely find.  They comment of the words “now she is seven and because she is so speshal” with H. G. Wells adding “when Alan was six, I was nix”.

The House at Pooh Corner is last of the Milne’s books in the series. Fine 1928 first editions will be notable for bright salmon pinks covers with gilt illustrations of Pooh and Christopher Robin stamped on the front board. Again the end papers are illustrated by E. H. Shepard. Any accompanying dust jackets will have the charming illustrations of the characters on the front covers and spine. This edition is prone to fading so a bright copy can be hard to track down.

For a collector a wish list would include deluxe versions of all the books. These deluxe editions came out in the same year as the trade editions except for When We Were Very Young which was released at the time of the seventh edition. Of course signed copies of the quartet with dust jackets in fine condition would complete the wish list. A bibliophile can seek a library of UK editions published by Methuen, London or U.S versions published by Dutton & Co, New York.

All the first editions were followed by a limited first edition run printed on handmade paper, and often known as “Large Paper” copies. Small numbers were released making them scarce and valuable items. Only 100 copies of When We Were Very Young were ever published. 350 copies of Winnie the Pooh signed by Milne and Shepard were released by Methuen in 1926. These copies are distinctive because of their two-tone blue boards. The U.S. limited edition of this book was also published in 1926 with blue and pink boards. Only 200 numbered copies and 26 lettered copies are available. The third book had only 200 “Large Paper” copies released with salmon paper boards, a beige buckram spine and a printed paper label on the front board. Finally the last in the series, 350 signed copies of The House at Pooh Corner was released with cream paper-covered boards, a blue buckram spine and a printed paper label on the front cover. All of these editions are highly sought after books and make a very desirable set.

Of course, once you have sought out a fine set of the Pooh books you might want to move onto completing the collection of all of Milne’s other fine works  – but that is another story…

Here are more A .A. Milne first editions

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How The Book Got It’s Jacket

“How the book got it’s jacket” sounds like a good title from Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories yet it is an interesting question, when did books acquire their dust wrappers?

Hans Andersen Fairy Tales and Legends illus by Rex Whistler

Before the 1820’s the text of a book was often bound in a commissioned binding of the owners choice. If a cover was needed to protect a book it was a plain paper wrapper, known as a “bastard title” that was quickly discarded once the book was purchased. An early forerunner version of a book protector was a slip case or sheath which were used for the covering of ornate gift publications or special books. From 1820 these covers progressed to a more paper like version and occasionally included the name of the book title on the cover. The golden age of illustration ensured that ornate and beautiful books were designed which required no decorative covers so any dust jackets for these books were frequently removed to enable the book to be displayed. As any dust jacket collector of 19th and 20th century dust jackets knows a dust jacket from this period is a rare item indeed.

Over time techniques of printing and marketing advanced allowing publishers to make book covers more colourful and appealing – although at the time continued scrapping of  lovely jackets as “wrapping paper” continued. Many books were issued with a plain glassine dust jacket which was instantly dismissed on opening but are now sought after items.

A Christmas Carol dust jacket Arthur Rackham

By the 1920’s dust jackets were becoming familiar. The use of the flap on a jacket became refined providing protection of the book and allowing the owner to read the book too. An added bonus for the publisher was that there was space for promotional information about the author and the book. As the ornately designed book waned the dust jacket became the focus of attraction. The artistic and commercial developments in the art world encouraged more designers to move into corporate employment. The golden Age illustrators even moved into the area of dust jacket design as in the 1925 edition of A Christmas Carol with Arthur Rackham designed dust wrapper. Book designs became objects of art themselves.

World War II interrupted the development of the jackets for a while as shortages of paper restricted publication. Yet since then the dust jacket has gained importance in the field of book collecting. As every book collector will know, a good quality first editionjacket can add considerable value to any book. The value and interest can very often now be in the illustration and design of the dust jacket. Unusual information about an author or the book on the dust jacket can now make it a rare and sought after object.

The Ring by Richard Chopping

Moonraker by Ian Fleming 1st Edition

Author designed jackets such as Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, 1930, or Moonraker by Ian Fleming,  are unusual items. Illustrators who then write a book and illustrate their dust jackets are interesting too as in The Ring by Richard Chopping (illustrator to many of Ian Fleming, James Bond novels).

It can probably be assumed that if How the book got it’s jacket was indeed a Kipling publication it would no doubt have had no jacket on – or maybe it might be covered in the popular glassine covers of the time – and would indeed now be a collectors item!

 

 

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A Clockwork Orange dust jacket

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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)

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 Sands

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!

View more first edition of the books

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rudyard Kipling’s Enduring, Just So Stories

Kipling’s Enduring Just So Stories

Rudyard Kipling has long been recognised as onJust So Stories by Rudyard Kiplinge of the most authentic writers during the British Empire of the early 20th century. Some of his works are clearly of their period yet the Just So Stories have endured the passage of time. They are as appealing to children today as they were when they were written in 1902.

The stories of how animals came to be as they are remain fanciful and intriguing. Each tale relates how the animal is modified from it’s original form by the acts of mankind, or some other magical act. For example, The Camel refuses to work and is given a hump as a punishment, allowing him to work for longer with less food breaks. The Whale swallowed a sailor, who then tied a raft inside the whale’s throat to impede further ingestion of men. The end result was a smaller throat for the Whale.

Kipling first attempts at this style of writing is evident in The Second Jungle Book of 1895 where he fantasizes how the tiger got his stripes  in the story of “How Fear Came“. He no doubt developed the tales when he was telling bedtime stories to his daughter, Josephine or “Effie”. Kipling commented, ...in the evening there were stories meant to put Effie to sleep, and you were not allowed to alter those by one single little word. They had to be told just so; or Effie would wake up and put back the missing sentence. So at last they came to be like charms, all three of them,—the whale tale, the camel tale, and the rhinoceros tale. Tragically his daughter died of fever in 1899. Three of the stories were published in a children’s magazine. A few years later the stories were published in book form in 1902.Just-So-Stories-By-Rudyard-Kipling-First-Edition

Kipling uses an amusing and grand style of language with playful invention of words. He includes a delightful poem after each story. The reader is addressed as Best Beloved engaging a feeling of intimacy with the audience – a technique which clearly worked as the book has appealed to children since it’s publication in 1902.

The book is illustrated with his own images and includes two woodcuts with each story. The images are remarkably fresh today. His skill may well have derived from inheriting some artistic talent from his father who was an artist and Principal at the then Mayo School of Arts, in Lahore, British India.Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Many of the stories have been made into films and musicals. For example, the Just So Stories were adapted as a 1984 musical, called Just So at the Watermill theatre in England. Also a French-British animated co-production of Just So Stories was produced in 2008. It is testimony to Kipling’s talent of writing and illustration that a rare first edition book is still in demand today and remains a collectable item. As Kipling said, Hear and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was: O my Best Beloved, when the tame animals were wild, and children are still listening.

To see our collection of First edition Kipling books, click here