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BOYD, William, 1952- : AN ICE-CREAM WAR.
London : Hamish Hamilton, (1982). First edition. His third novel – “It is far too hot for sustained fighting ... we will all melt like ice-cream in the sun”. Evelyn Waugh meets John Buchan as eccentric settlers take up arms in the East African Campaign of the First World War.
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“BRAMAH, Ernest” – [SMITH, Ernest Brammah, 1868-1942] : KAI LUNG BENEATH THE MULBERRY-TREE.
London : Richards Press, (1940). First edition. “Mr. Bramah records the honey-tongued raconteur’s latest stories. They have all the inimitable qualities of the earlier collections ... the most delicate wit, and the shrewdest of observations on human life” (Daily News, 20th March 1940). “Needs no description ... as good as ever, and Mr. Bramah’s genius with the idiom has not failed” (Illustrated London News, 20th April 1940). The last of the five collections of Kai Lung stories published in Bramah’s lifetime – a series begun forty years earlier.
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“CHASE, James Hadley” – [RAYMOND, René Brabazon, 1906-1985] : A COFFIN FROM HONG KONG.
London : Robert Hale, (1962). First edition. “Sitting, facing me in the clients’ chair was a lovely-looking Chinese girl, her hands folded rather primly in her lap ... she looked peaceful and not even surprised. From the small bloodstain over her left breast, I guessed she had been shot quickly and expertly ... she had been dead for some hours”. Cracking Hadley Chase novel, filmed in German in 1964 by Manfred R. Köhler as “Ein Sarg aus Hongkong”, with Heinz Drache, Elga Andersen, Greta Chi, etc.
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FAULKS, Sebastian, 1953- : ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET.
London : Hutchinson, (2001). First edition. Signed by Sebastian Faulks on the title-page. The ending of the Eisenhower years, the Kennedy campaign, Washington 1959 – a novel to the jazz rhythms of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. “Both tense and affecting ... At the end one releases the breath one has unconsciously been holding ... a modern epic” (Anita Brookner).
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FERMOR, Patrick Leigh (Sir Patrick Michael), 1915-2011 : THE BROKEN ROAD : FROM THE IRON GATES TO MOUNT ATHOS.
London : John Murray (Publishers), (2013). First edition. Signed by both editors, Artemis Cooper and Colin Thubron. The posthumously published final instalment of Fermor’s famous journey on foot across Europe at the age of eighteen in the 1930s – “like a tramp, a pilgrim, or a wandering scholar”. The third leg – from the Iron Gates of Romania via Bucharest and Bulgaria to Salonika and Mount Athos. One of the twentieth-century classics – a “sublime masterpiece” (William Dalrymple).
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FOWLES, John (John Robert), 1926-2005 : THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN.
London : Jonathan Cape, (1969). First edition. Victorian Lyme Regis and the enigmatic Sarah Woodruff – a book for which the note on the dust-jacket about the pagination being correct is perhaps a necessary prelude. Filmed by Karel Reisz in 1981 with a Harold Pinter screenplay, Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, etc.
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FREEMAN, R. Austin (Richard Austin), 1862-1943 : THE FAMOUS CASES OF DR. THORNDYKE : THIRTY-SEVEN OF HIS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS AS SET DOWN BY R. AUSTIN FREEMAN.
London : Hodder & Stoughton, . First edition of this thousand-page-plus omnibus collection of all bar three of the Thorndyke short stories which had appeared in the five collections published between 1909 and 1927. The stories are here grouped into six “inverted” and thirty-one “direct” examples, with an absorbing new preface by the author on the nature and methodology of the detective story. “Mr Freeman’s super-detective, Dr Thorndyke, needs no introduction ... each case has some new ingenuity to commend it” (The Scotsman, 14th October 1929).
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GASKELL, E.C. (Elizabeth Cleghorn), 1810-1865 : THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTË, AUTHOR OF “JANE EYRE”, “SHIRLEY”, “VILLETTE”, &C.
London : Smith, Elder & Co., 1857. First edition. A delightfully extra-illustrated and beautifully bound copy of this still controversial biography of Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) – “revolution as well as revelation” in Margaret Oliphant’s phrase. Unsold copies were withdrawn in the face of a storm of legal threat and hostility. Extra-illustrated by the insertion of forty additional plates, portraits and views, a number hand-coloured, as are the original frontispiece portrait and view of Haworth.
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[HUDSON, W.H. (William Henry), 1841-1922] : A CRYSTAL AGE.
London : T. Fisher Unwin, 1887. First edition. An anonymously published landmark in dystopian fiction, with the narrator recovering from unconsciousness into a future William Morris arts-and-crafts ecological world without cities, money or politics – pre-dating Morris’s own “News from Nowhere” by several years, and Wells’s “A Modern Utopia” by even more. Inserted, in its original envelope, is a remarkable single-page signed autograph letter on his North Parade, Penzance, notepaper, dated 31st December 1920, from W. H. Hudson, replying to an enquiry about the scarcity of the book – “I am pleased to learn the first edition is scarce as I would be glad to have it out of existence. The book is a poor thing but in the later editions one or two of the most glaring absurdities are eliminated. The first edition had an ugly black and red cover. I have succeeded in recovering a few copies for the pleasure of destroying them”.
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HUGHES, Ted (Edward James), 1930-1998 : HOW THE WHALE BECAME.
London : Faber & Faber, (1963). First edition. His first prose work – eleven Kiplingesque stories on the real manner of the evolution of the owl, whale, fox, polar bear, hyena, tortoise, bee, cat, donkey, hare and elephant. Illustrations by George Adamson (1913-2005).
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JAMES, Henry, 1843-1916 : THE AWKWARD AGE.
London : William Heinemann, 1899. First edition : [one of 2,000 copies]. Eighteen-year-old Nanda enters the decadent fin-de-siècle marriage market – “We begin by being afraid that we shall not understand enough, we end by fearing that we may understand too much ... It is a strong book, but there is one thing greater than its strength, and that is its audacity” (Morning Post, 29th June 1899). A copy from the library of Sir Stephen Spender (1909-1995). Spender’s “The Destructive Element” (1935) remains one of the most interesting and influential studies of James and his contemporaries.
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JEFFERIES, Richard (John Richard), 1848-1887 : THE DEWY MORN. A NOVEL.
London : Richard Bentley & Son, 1884. First edition : just 625 sets were printed, of which only 425 were initially sent for binding. “Meadow and brook, wheat-fields and hills – a simple landscape, yet such as is not to be surpassed by any on earth. A common landscape – there are hundreds such in England – yet beyond compare. There are none like it elsewhere in the wide world” – Jefferies in his element in his native Wiltshire, with a novel characterised as “a sad little episode of cottage life, very tragic in its termination” (Reading Mercury, 20th September 1884). “Human nature, especially rustic human nature, has seldom if ever had a closer student or a more picturesque exponent” (The Graphic, 20th September 1884).
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LANG, Andrew, 1844-1912 : THE DISENTANGLERS.
London : Longmans, Green & Co., 1902. First edition. “Wild, roaring fun” (Daily News, 20th November 1902). Two well-connected but impoverished young men recruit a team of likewise young, charming and penniless men and women, available for hire to disrupt and disentangle unfortunate or unsuitable romantic attachments before too much harm can be done either to the lovers or, more particularly, their families – “Adventure of the Exemplary Earl”, “Adventure of the Lady Novelist and the Vaccinationist”, “Adventure of the Fair American”, and other tales. “In ‘The Disentanglers’ we have the apotheosis of the detective-story, with, as Mr. Lang’s Canadian millionaire would say, ‘every modern improvement’, divorced, too, from ‘all that cheap revolver business’, to quote the hero and Disentangler-in-Chief ... Apart from the excellent construction and swing of the stories, there is endless fun in the sly digs at literature, modern and ancient – at the penny novelette, the British Museum girl, and the Celtic minor poet” (The Sketch, 3rd December 1902).
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McEWAN, Ian (Ian Russell), 1948- : THE INNOCENT.
London : Jonathan Cape, (1990). First edition. Signed by Ian McEwan on the title-page. “It is 1955 and post-war Berlin is crawling with subterfuge” – a young British technician involved in electronic surveillance encounters a beautiful young German called Maria.
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MAUGHAM, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965 : THE PAINTED VEIL.
New York : George H. Doran Co., (1925). First edition. Published a month earlier than the London edition and retaining a textual integrity which the British publication did not – two separate libel actions having necessitated changes in the names of characters in the latter, as well as the substitution of the fictional place-names of Tching-Yen, Pleasant Vale, and The Mount, for the real places of Hong Kong, Happy Valley, and The Peak. “Like many other of Mr. Maugham’s stories, the scene of his latest – and best – book is laid ‘East of Suez’. The theme, a loveless marriage and its disastrous aftermath, though old as the hills, is invested with modernity and freshness by means of a photographic realism” (Nottingham Journal, 21st May 1925). Filmed in 1934 (Greta Garbo), and in 2006 (Naomi Watts).
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PALGRAVE, Francis Turner, 1824-1897 – editor : THE GOLDEN TREASURY OF THE BEST SONGS AND LYRICAL POEMS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
Cambridge : Macmillan & Co., 1861. First edition : one of the 2,000 copies of the first impression, with the roman rather than gothic half-title, just four notes on p.323, etc. The original appearance of a perennial favourite – close on 300 of the finest poems in the language from seventy-five or so poets – from Sir Thomas Wyatt, Marlowe and Shakespeare, to Shelley and Keats. With a preface and some extensive notes by Palgrave.
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PARSONS, Thomas, 1838-1926 : THE CHRONICLES OF CLAPHAM (CLAPHAM COMMON) : BEING A SELECTION FROM THE REMINISCENCES OF THOMAS PARSONS, SOMETIME MEMBER OF THE CLAPHAM ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY; TOGETHER WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS FROM DRAWINGS & PHOTOGRAPHS, AND AN INTRODUCTION & SUNDRY ADDITIONS IN THE FORM OF APPENDICES BY J. H. MICHAEL BURGESS. F.R.G.S.
London : privately printed by A. V. Huckle & Son, The Ramsden Press, (1929). First edition. A well-illustrated and very attractively produced tour of Clapham and its older houses, former residents, etc., with appendices including material on the Windmill Inn, sports and pastimes – cricket, golf, etc., the ponds, the flora and fauna, the geology, fossils, the wells, etc. Neatly inserted is a single page typed letter on headed notepaper, signed by the editor J. H. Michael Burgess, thanking the recipient for ordering a copy of the book, etc.
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SAROYAN, William, 1908-1991 : THE TROUBLE WITH TIGERS.
London : Faber & Faber, (1939). First British edition. Six sequences of Saroyan short stories – “Mr. Saroyan is so diverse, so expressive, that he is never a bore and always amusing ... Seldom cynical, occasionally angry, he is always seeing, watching, understanding, and transposing, into his highly artificial prose that achieves the ultra-natural, the ways, foibles, desires and idiocies of mankind ... he has a spate of words at need and sometimes lets them tumble over one another, but always as trained acrobats, never with casual effect or effort” (Birmingham Daily Post, 21st March 1939).
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STOPPARD, Tom (Sir Thomas), 1937- : ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD.
London : Faber & Faber, [ca.1998]. A twenty-fourth printing of the 1968 second edition. Inscribed, “To Ira Nadel” and signed by Tom Stoppard on the front free endpaper. The introductory cast-list of the 1967 National Theatre production is further signed by John Stride (1936-2018) and Edward Petherbridge (b.1936), who played the title roles. Loosely inserted is a National Theatre postcard of Stride and Petherbridge in that original production. Nadel was the author of “Double Act : A Life of Tom Stoppard” in 2002.
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TARKINGTON, Booth (Newton Booth), 1869-1946 : CLAIRE AMBLER.
New York : Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1928. First edition. “You like men to be in love with you but not to trouble you by telling you” – Tarkington’s popular novel of the evolution of a flapper, “slim, lovely, alluring, modern to her painted fingertips ... will thrill younger readers and startle and amuse their fathers and mothers”.
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THACKERAY, W.M. (William Makepeace), 1811-1863 : VANITY FAIR : A NOVEL WITHOUT A HERO.
London : Bradbury & Evans, 1848. First edition, bound from the original monthly parts published between January 1847 and July 1848. The parts in first state, with the “rustic” heading to the first chapter, the inadvertent “Mr. Pitt” rather than “Sir Pitt” on p.453, and the notorious “Marquis of Steyne” wood-engraving (p.336) – an illustration said to have been suppressed, under threat of court action, for its allegedly libellous resemblance to the Third Marquis of Hertford. This has been disputed, but the portrait certainly only appears in the earliest copies of the book – and disappeared very early in the book’s life cycle.
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THORNBURY, Walter, 1828-1876 : HAUNTED LONDON.
London : Hurst & Blackett, 1865. First edition. “This book deals not so much with the London of the ghost-stories ... as with the London consecrated by manifold traditions – a city every street and alley of which teems with interesting associations, every paving-stone of which marks, as it were, the abiding-place of some ancient legend or biographical story; in short this London of the present haunted by the memories of the past”. With separate chapters on Charing Cross, Drury Lane, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Long Acre, St. Giles, St. Martin’s Lane, the Savoy, Somerset House, the Strand, Temple Bar, etc., and a fund of out-of-the-way anecdote of Londoners past.
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TROLLOPE, Anthony, 1815-1882 : JOHN CALDIGATE.
London : Chapman & Hall, 1879. First edition. A scarce late Trollope, featuring on Sadleir’s “A”-list of rarities (XIX Century Fiction, 1951). Disinherited son makes good in the goldfields of Australia, returning home a wealthy man to marry Hester Bolton, but the delightfully wicked Euphemia Smith turns up to claim a prior marriage. Trollope makes interesting use of his Post Office experience to hinge the story on a forged postmark. “Mr Trollope has perhaps never hit upon a story that more strongly arouses the reader’s attention and sympathy, and never told one with more mastery of the whole situation, in small things no less than in great” (The Graphic, 26th July 1879).
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WAVELL, A.P. (Archibald Percival, First Earl), 1883-1950 : OTHER MEN’S FLOWERS : AN ANTHOLOGY OF POETRY COMPILED BY A. P. WAVELL (FIELD-MARSHAL VISCOUNT WAVELL G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., C.M.G., M.C.)
London : Jonathan Cape, (1944). The first edition of this enduringly popular anthology – the best of English poetry – all of which, it is said, Wavell knew by heart. Includes around 180 poems drawn from all periods and arranged thematically – “Music, Mystery and Magic”; “Good Fighting”; “Love and All That”; “The Call of the Wild”; “Conversation Pieces”; “The Lighter Side”; “Hymns of Hate”; “Ragbag”, and “Last Post”, each with an introduction by Wavell.
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WELLS, H.G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946 : MEN LIKE GODS.
London : Cassell & Co., (1923). First edition. Journalist from Sydenham and other earthlings find themselves in Utopia, an evolved civilisation in a world without government or religion, “as clean as starlight and as sweet as cold water on a dusty day” – “Let it be said at once, in this book Mr. Wells is at his best. Indeed, if one had to name the novel that represents his many-sided genius most completely, one could hardly fail to name ‘Men Like Gods’“ (Sylvia Lynd in the Daily News, 8th March 1923).
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WOLFE, Tom (Thomas Kennerly), 1931-2018 : FROM BAUHAUS TO OUR HOUSE.
New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, (1981). First edition. Wolfe on modern architecture – smart, well-researched, and devastating – “Every child goes to school in a building that looks like a duplicating-machine replacement parts wholesale distribution warehouse ... Every new $900,000 summer house ... has so many pipe railings, ramps, hob-tread metal spiral stairways, sheets of industrial plate glass, banks of tungsten-halogen lamps, and white cylindrical shapes, it looks like an insecticide refinery”, etc.
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