Archives for rare books

First Edition: A Passage to India

EM Forster was born in 1879 and was the author of a number of hugely successful novels. Many were turned into films including Where Angels Fear to Tread [1991], Room with a View [1985] and Howards End [1992]. A Passage to India was his last, and most successful novel, but he was to live on. He died in 1970 at the age of 91. This portrait [below] of Forster by Dora Carrington is dated 1924. This hardback first edition [above] is one of the rare examples which still has its dust jacket. Published in 1924 by London Edward Arnold & Co, it is now worth £9,750 at rare bookseller Peter Harrington. The story Set in the context of India during the British Raj of the 1920s, with the growing Indian independence movement, A Passage to India tells the story of four key characters: Dr Aziz, Cyril Fielding, Mrs Moore and Miss Adela Quested. Aziz is garrulous and naive, Adela something of a prig. During a trip to the Malabar Caves, Adela finds herself alone in a cave with Mr Aziz. She panics and flees. The assumption is made that Aziz assaulted her. The story of his subsequent trial examines the
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Categories: Book Love.

First Edition: The Moonstone

Before Philip Marlowe, Sherlock Holmes and Adam Dalgliesh. Before Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The first full-length detective novel ever published was The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. First serialised in Charles Dickens’ magazine All the Year Round, the story revolves around the theft of a precious stone. A diamond, actually, not a semi-precious moonstone. The title page of the first edition [below] shows the publisher as Tinsley Brothers, Catherine Street, The Strand, London in 1868. The story On her 18th birthday, Rachel Verinder inherits a large Indian diamond as a legacy from her uncle, a corrupt British army officer serving in India. However the diamond is not only valuable but has great religious significance, and so three Hindu priests dedicate their lives to recovering it. At her birthday party Rachel wears the Moonstone on her dress for all to see. Later the same night, the diamond is stolen. The Moonstone follows the attempts of Rachel’s cousin Franklin Blake to identify the thief, trace the stone and recover it. The first edition Of course there are many ‘first editions’ and not all date from the original publication, they may simply be the first printing by a particular publisher. Although I could find online
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Categories: Book Love.

First Edition: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

I was a great John Fowles fan in the Eighties. This is my copy of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, dated 1981, a paperback edition by Triad Granada. It is well-thumbed, well-read, as are all my Fowles paperbacks including The Collector and The Magus. I remember being disappointed with the film, disliking the two-strand screenplay. I haven’t read the novel for years, but it remains on my shelf and I will re-read it soon. I find once the details of a story have been forgotten, the pleasure of re-reading increases exponentially. The story Famous for its multiple endings, The French Lieutenant’s Woman received a mixed reception on publication. It explores the relationship of gentleman and amateur naturalist Charles Smithson, and Sarah Woodruff, former governess and independent woman, with whom he falls in love. Set in the mid-19th century, Woodruff is a ‘disgraced’ woman who lives in Lyme Regis where she spends hours walking The Cobb, a stone jetty where she stares out to sea. Smithson arrives in town and, seeing this lonely figure beside the sea, is curious about her. The film  Starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons [above], this film was released in 1981 with a stellar cast, director [Karel Reisz],
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Categories: Book Love.