Friday, 3 July 2015

The Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene, 1959–1960, Peter Edwards Dust Jackets

From his debut novel in 1929, The Man Within, until his eighteenth in 1961, A Burnt-Out Case, Graham Greene's principal English publisher was William Heinemann Ltd. (After A Burnt-Out Case Greene left Heinemann for The Bodley Head, where in 1957 he had been made a director by his friend Max Reinhardt, Managing Director of the publishing house; see Norman Sherry's The Life of Graham Greene Volume 3: 1955–1991.) With the exception of Greene's second and third novels, The Name of Action (1930) and Rumour at Nightfall (1931), which the writer repudiated and which were never reprinted, all of Greene's books were reprinted in hardback by Heinemann multiple times throughout the 1930s, '40s and '50s, either in their original form or in the reset Uniform Edition of 1947–55, with their austere red and grey dust jackets. Then, in 1959, Heinemann introduced a striking new edition of Greene's books: The Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene.

I was unaware of the Library Edition until earlier this year, when I chanced upon a 1959 Library Edition of Greene's 1948 novel The Heart of the Matter in Colin Page Antiquarian Books in Brighton. I was immediately taken with the lovely wraparound dust jacket, which was designed by Peter Edwards, best known these days, along with his wife Gunvor, as illustrator of the Thomas the Tank Engine Railway Series from 1963–1972, and as the book was only £3.50, I snapped it up. Later, after some further investigation, I discovered that Heinemann had issued over a dozen of Greene's novels in the Library Edition, all with Peter Edwards wrappers; and as there were a number of Greene's novels that I wanted to read, in particular his "entertainments", as Greene styled his more crime- and espionage-inclined books, I set about trying to collect some of them.

No easy task. Though some books in the Library Edition reprinted two or three times, they proved tricky to track down, and even where they could be found in amongst the various Uniform Editions and Collected Editions listed online, they frequently lacked dust jackets or were ex-library copies or, worse, rebinds. But after a little work, I managed to secure a further six books in the edition, making seven altogether, a good many of them first printings.

Naturally I've added their dust jackets to Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s, but I've gathered them together here also – along with jacket flaps and cases, the latter all with the red cloth boards characteristic of the edition – to demonstrate what an exceptional body of work Peter Edwards's little-seen wrappers are. (Click on the images to see them bigger.) Books are arranged in order of original publication of the novels rather the Library Edition numbering, which can be found on the jacket flaps and which runs in a different sequence; I've noted those numbers at the end of the publishing info for each title.

The Man Within, Heinemann, orig. 1929, Library Edition 1959 (third reprint, 1968), L9
Greene's 1929 debut novel, this is a good illustration of the perils of collecting the Library Editions. I knew from the online listing that this was an ex-library copy, so the fact that the front endpaper had been removed didn't come as a surprise; but I didn't know that this copy was the 1968 reprint of the 1959 Library Edition (which also reprinted in 1960 and 1964), and nor was I aware that the jacket front flap was torn, and the back flap was completely loose. Still, the book was cheap, and now that I've repaired the back flap the thing looks presentable enough.

The novel is set in and around my stomping ground of Lewes and the Sussex Downs; Peter Edwards's jacket illustration could almost be the view from Mount Caburn down to Newhaven, were it not for the absence of the River Ouse. And on the jacket front flap, note the book's number in the edition: not L1, as one might suppose of Greene's debut, but L9; L1, as I'll demonstrate shortly, is taken by a much later novel.

. . . . . . . . . .

Stamboul Train, Heinemann, orig. 1932, Library Edition 1959, L3
This was an extremely fortunate find, which I acquired from an Italian seller on eBay for just under ten euros (about seven quid). There are no other copies of the first printing of the 1959 Library Edition currently available online that I can see, just a single copy of the 1960 reprint of the edition, priced at £100, and a few jacketless copies of the 1965 reprint priced at around a fiver. The first of Greene's self-styled "entertainments", Peter Edwards's dust jacket depicts the sequence in the novel where the Orient Express – the "Stamboul Train" of the title – is stopped at Subotica.

. . . . . . . . . .

The Confidential Agent, Heinemann, orig. 1939; Library Edition 1960, L11
There are just three other copies of the Library Edition of The Confidential Agent available online at present, one a 1965 reprint of said which lacks a dust jacket, the others first printings priced at around £20 and £175. My first printing cost £4.30, and though the jacket is a little rubbed and chipped, it still shows off Peter Edwards's evocative artwork well – one of the best of his designs for the Library Edition wrappers that I've seen, I think.

The third of Greene's "entertainments", The Confidential Agent could well be my next Greene read (after Our Man in Havana, which I'm currently reading).

. . . . . . . . . .

The Power and the Glory, Heinemann, orig. 1940, Library Edition 1959 (first reprint, 1960), L1
My most recent acquisition in the Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene – it arrived in the post yesterday. I noticed this 1960 printing of the 1959 edition online a month or so ago, but there were other Greene novels I was keener to read, plus it was a reprint; so it was only last week that I finally decided to buy it: it was a good price – less than twenty quid (including postage), as opposed to £100 for the only other jacketed copy of this printing currently available in the UK – and both book and jacket, the latter with its splendid Goya-esque painted artwork, are in near fine condition.

Bizarrely, The Power and the Glory is number 1 in the Library Edition, despite being Greene's eighth novel (or tenth if you count the two early novels he disowned). If there's a rationale for the numbering in the edition, I've yet to discern it.

. . . . . . . . . .

The Ministry of Fear, Heinemann, orig. 1943, Library Edition 1960, L8
I'll be posting a review of this fine novel soon enough; suffice it to say of the story here that Peter Edwards's jacket, with its vision of a blitz-blasted London, barrage balloons floating overhead, and with the novel's lead, Arthur Rowe, in the foreground, his face unseen, clutching (as the story makes clear) a copy of Charlotte M. Yonge's The Little Duke in one hand and a cake in the other, subtly and cleverly hints at the nature of the novel without giving too much away.

A curious copy of the Library Edition of The Ministry of Fear, this one. To all intents and purposes it's the 1960 first printing of that edition – certainly the copyright page in the book states as much; but the front flap of the jacket bears a decimal price rather than a shillings one, and it sports an ISBN (or SBN), a numbering system which wasn't introduced in publishing until the mid-1960s. It also lacks its Library Edition number – although I know that's L8, as before I acquired this copy of the book from a New Zealand seller, I bought a cheapo ex-library 1963 first reprint of this edition which turned out to be (shudder) a trimmed-down rebind (it's a good centimetre shorter and cased in shiny black faux leather).

So it's a bit of a mystery. I suppose it's conceivable the price on the flap is in New Zealand pounds, which was the currency over there until 1967 (when the NZ dollar was introduced), but that doesn't explain the ISBN. It's possible the jacket was taken from a later printing and married to a 1960 first printing book, but what little wear there is on both wrapper and book suggests they've been together for quite some time. Still, no matter: there's only one other jacketed copy of the Library Edition of the novel available online that I'm aware of, a 1963 reprint offered at £100, and I didn't pay anything like that, even with postage – plus the condition is near fine, some fading on the jacket spine aside.

. . . . . . . . . .

The Heart of the Matter, Heinemann, orig. 1948, Library Edition 1959 , L5
The book that started this particular collecting obsession. When I tweeted a picture of Peter Edwards's wrapper shortly after buying this copy, there was quite a bit of interest from some of the book designer folk I interact with on Twitter. I'll be interested to learn what they think of Edwards's other jackets for the Library Edition.

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The Quiet American, Heinemann, orig. 1955, Library Edition 1960, L13
The Library Edition of The Quiet American is actually the first reprint of the novel altogether. I'm quite familiar with The Quiet American – I've written about it before – and to my mind Peter Edwards's dust jacket evokes the novel beautifully.

I'm unsure as to whether the Library Edition continued past this point, number 13 in the series. I've seen some info online which suggests that both Loser Takes All (orig. 1955) and A Burnt-Out Case (orig. 1961) were published into the edition (but perhaps not Our Man in Havana, orig. 1958), but I've not been able to confirm that, and nor have I seen any evidence of Peter Edwards wrappers for those books. If anyone can shed any light there, or supply some of the Library numbers of other titles in the edition that I don't (yet) own, or even better, owns any of the Library Editions I'm missing and is willing to part with them, do please either leave a comment or email me using the email address in the sidebar. I'll update this post with whatever information I receive, and whichever books in the edition I acquire, as and when.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

A Tom Ripley / Ripliad TV Series, and Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley: British First Edition (Cresset Press, 1957)

Obsessive Patricia Highsmith/Tom Ripley nut that I am, it would be remiss of me, I feel, not to comment in some fashion on the recent(ish) news that Highsmith's Ripliad could well be heading for television. Except that, as yet, there's not much to comment on. The Hollywood Reporter reports that the proposed series is to be produced in partnership with Highsmith's literary executor, Diogenes Verlag, with Philipp Keel – son of the late Daniel Keel, founder of Diogenes – serving as an executive producer, and that the "vision for the TV series is to expand on Rene Clement's 1960 feature Purple Moon and Anthony Minghella's Matt Damon-starrer The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) – both of which were based on the first book in the series – and explore the depth, sophistication and complexity of the character of Tom Ripley". But the magazine does also state that the producers will be bringing not just The Talented Mr. Ripley to television but Highsmith's "five-book series", so there's reason to suppose that the Ripliad as a whole will be televised.

I'll be keeping a keen eye on developments there, but in a curious case of coincidence, one of which Highsmith herself would surely have approved, shortly before the announcement of the Ripley TV series I finally got my hands on a copy of the one Ripley book – indeed the one book above all others – that I've had at the top of my wants list ever since I started collecting books:

A British first edition of The Talented Mr. Ripley, published by the Cresset Press in 1957. Now, I should point out that while the book is the genuine article – a first impression of the British first edition, as denoted by the title and copyright pages:

– the dust jacket, well, isn't. It's a facsimile dust jacket, which I ordered from the appropriately named Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC after winning the book on eBay for not much more that fifty quid – an absolute bargain considering the cheapest jacketless copy of the Cresset edition currently on AbeBooks is an ex-library affair with both endpapers removed (and replaced) offered at north of £100. And even factoring in the price of the facsimile jacket, which set me back an additional twenty quid (including shipping from America), it's still quite the steal, especially when the only other facsimile jacketed copy of the book on AbeBooks at present is priced at £175. (British first editions in their original jackets are more like £700–£1,000.)

Value aside, though, the real pleasure for me, as a Highsmith and Ripley fanatic, comes in simply owning the thing – the one Ripley novel that I didn't own in British first, and one of only two Highsmith novels that I didn't own in British first (the other being Strangers on a Train, Highsmith's debut). Oh, I own other editions of The Talented Mr. Ripley which I prize – a lovely 1960 Pan paperback, a striking 1959 Dell paperback, a 1973 Heinemann hardback – but to finally have in my hands – and, when it's not in my hands, on my Highsmith shelf – a true British first of the novel, even one in a facsimile jacket, is especially thrilling.

The dust jacket design is uncredited – it could be the work of Joan Hassall, Kenneth Rowntree, Hugh Walker or possibly even Hans Tisdall, all of whom were designing wrappers for Cresset Press around this period – or it could be none of those designers – so I've added it to Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s under 'Designer Unknown'. In the Existential Ennui Patricia Highsmith First Edition Book Cover Gallery, however, it has assumed its proper place in between my Cresset Press edition of The Blunderer and Heinemann edition of Deep Water.

Tom Ripley has been much in the news of late, no doubt in part for the reasons outlined at the start of this post, but he's also been much on my mind – even more so than usual – and not merely because of the proposed TV show. Obviously my acquisition of this copy of The Talented Mr. Ripley is one reason for that, but I've also acquired a very special copy of a later Ripley novel, one which I'll be writing about before too long, plus I came across an article, written by Patricia Highsmith in 1989, on the real life inspiration for Tom. And I'll be blogging about that article soon.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Patricia Highsmith, Graham Greene and Eleven (Heinemann, 1970), alias The Snail-Watcher and Other Stories

NB: Linked in Friday's Forgotten Books, 26/6/15.

"I have said little about other people's suspense books," wrote Patricia Highsmith towards the end of her inspirational book for budding writers, Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction (1966, revised 1981), "mainly because I seldom read them, and so I am unqualified to say that certain suspense books are good, very good, or why. I like best Graham Greene's entertainments, mainly because they are intelligent, and their prose is very skillful. He is also a moralist, even in his entertainments, and I am interested in morality, providing it isn't preached." (The only other suspense author to get much of a look-in in Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction is Julian Symons, who warrants one page to Graham Greene's three, although non-suspense writers like Dostoevsky, Flaubert and Henry James are referenced.)

Highsmith and Greene never met in person, but they were admirers of each other's work and corresponded for years. Highsmith told film critic Gerald Peary in 1988, "I have [Greene's] telephone number but I wouldn't dream of using it" (she added: "I don't seek out writers because we all want to be alone"), while Andrew Wilson, in his 2003 biography of Highsmith, Beautiful Shadow, recounts one occasion where Greene wrote to Highsmith expressing his disgust at some of the negative reviews of Highsmith's 1972 novel A Dog's Ransom. But the best example, and certainly the most frequently quoted, of Greene's enthusiasm for Highsmith's writing comes in his foreword to Highsmith's first collection of short stories:

Eleven, published in 1970 by Heinemann in the UK and the same year, under the title The Snail-Watcher and Other Stories, by Doubleday in the US. Highsmith was so keen to have Greene write the foreword to the book that when Doubleday would only pay $100 of the $500 fee that Greene's agent had demanded, Highsmith made up the difference. Considering how widely quoted the foreword has turned out to be – excerpts appeared on the covers of a good many of her subsequent books and in numerous other places besides – it was money well spent, but one snippet has circulated especially widely, and particularly online: "Miss Highsmith is the poet of apprehension". It's an intriguing line – or rather segment of a line – but the ensuing half-paragraph is more illuminating:

Miss Highsmith is the poet of apprehension rather than fear. Fear after a time, as we all learned in the blitz, is narcotic, it can lull one by fatigue into sleep, but apprehension nags at the nerves gently and inescapably. We have to learn to live with it. Miss Highsmith's finest novel to my mind is The Tremor of Forgery, and if I were to be asked what it is about I would reply, "Apprehension."

Greene goes on to make the point: "In her short stories Miss Highsmith has naturally to adopt a different method. She is after the quick kill rather than the slow encirclement of the reader, and how admirably and with what field-craft she hunts us down." From the stories in Eleven he chooses "When the Fleet was in at Mobile" as his favourite, which with its devastating ending he commends as "Highsmith at her claustrophobic best", and further picks out "The Heroine" for being "as much a study of apprehension as [The Tremor of Forgery]... 'The Terrapin', a late Highsmith... a cruel story of childhood which can bear comparison with Saki's masterpiece, 'Sredni Vaster', and for pure physical horror, which is an emotion rarely evoked by Miss Highsmith, 'The Snail-Watcher'".

Rarely evoked perhaps, but to my mind the "pure physical horror" of "The Snail-Watcher" is matched in Eleven by "The Quest for Blank Claveringi", another tale of snails (Highsmith herself kept snails as pets) in which Professor Avery Clavering comes a cropper on the fictional Mastusas Islands at the hands – or rather teeth – of a monstrous mollusc. My own favourites in the collection are the very short, very sour "The Cries of Love", a sharp sketch of low-level internecine warfare between two auld biddies sharing a room in a retirement hotel, like a pithy precursor to Kingsley Amis's Ending Up (1974), and the powerful "Another Bridge to Cross", which in its portryal of an American man adrift in a foreign land following a bereavement and undergoing a crisis of identity explores similar territory to the aforementioned The Tremor of Forgery (1969).

"[Highsmith's] characters are irrational," wrote Graham Greene, "and they leap to life in their very lack of reason; suddenly we realize how unbelievably rational most fictional characters are as they lead their lives from A to Z, like commuters always taking the same train." That for me serves as more of an insight into the appeal of the best of Highsmith as that "poet of apprehension" line, and though the bulk of the stories in Eleven, splendid though they are, are designed more for "the quick kill", "Another Bridge to Cross" is as fine, albeit fleeting, an "encirclement of the reader" as can be found in her oeuvre.

I'll be returning to Graham Greene soon, with a gallery of beautiful editions of his books from the 1950s and 1960s and a review of an excellent "entertainment". But before that, another Highsmith first edition, one which will shortly be joining Eleven in the Existential Ennui Patricia Highsmith First Edition Book Cover Gallery: The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Singular Points of View: Patricia Highsmith and A Dog's Ransom (Heinemann, 1972)

NB: Linked in this Friday's Forgotten Books, 19/6/15.

Patricia Highsmith wrote all of her novels and short stories in the third-person singular (past tense), arguing – in Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction (1966, revised 1981) – that "first-person singular is the most difficult form in which to write a novel". She added:

I have bogged down twice in first-person-singular books, so emphatically that I abandoned any idea of writing the books. I don't know what was the matter, except that I got sick and tired of writing the pronoun "I", and I was plagued with an idiotic feeling that the person telling the story was sitting at a desk writing it. Fatal! Also, I have quite a bit of introspection in my heroes, and to write all this in the first person makes them sound like nasty schemers, which of course they are, but they seem less so if some all-knowing author is telling what is going on in their heads.

Highsmith also preferred "two points of view in a novel, but I don't always have them". In most cases where she elected not to write from two (usually male) viewpoints, she chose a single (also usually male) viewpoint – for example Deep Water (1957), This Sweet Sickness (1960), The Tremor of Forgery (1969) and all bar one (Ripley's Game, 1974) of the five Tom Ripley novels, reasoning that "keeping a single point of view throughout a book... increases the intensity of the story – and intensity can and should offset a possible monotony of a one-person viewpoint". But very occasionally she wrote a book from more than two points of view. A Suspension of Mercy (alias The Story-Teller, 1965) would be an example of this, as would this book:

A Dog's Ransom, published in hardback in the UK by Heinemann in 1972. In the opening chapters the story unfolds from the viewpoint of Ed Reynolds, a well-to-do New Yorker on the receiving end of anonymous poison pen letters; but once Ed and his wife Greta's French poodle, Lisa, is dognapped,  Highsmith introduces Patrolman Clarence Duhamell, a well-meaning but naive and, so it proves, inept cop who makes it his personal mission to retrieve Lisa. And then, just as it looks as though Highsmith will be uncharacteristically withholding the identity of the dognapper and crafting a whodunnit – as she did in probably her weakest novel, A Game for the Living (1958) – she introduces her third POV character, one of her classic creeps, the objectionable Kenneth Rowajinski.

I suppose the prior Highsmith creep Rowajinski most reminded me of was Melchior Kimmel from The Blunderer (1954), but in his nasty hobby of poison penning, Rowajinski also brought to my mind Tom in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)who in the opening stages of that book is engaged in a spot of mail fraud – "no more than a practical joke, really," as Highsmith/Tom puts it, "Good clean sport" – and considering giving one of his victims "a good scare by telephone to put the fear of god into him". But anyway: the multiple vantage points of A Dog's Ransom and its vision of a New York crippled by crime and corruption afford the novel a kind of state-of-the-nation feel – which, according to Highsmith's biographer, Andrew Wilson (in Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith, 2003), was precisely Highsmith's intention.

This and other aspects of the novel are explored by John Norris in his thoughtful review of A Dog's Ransom from last week (coincidentally both John and I happened to have read the same book at around the same time). I'm not sure if John actually liked the book – I'm not sure I did either – but he like me was certainly fascinated by it. Reviews at the time of publication were mixed, however; though Brigid Brophy in The Listener thought the novel "a virtuoso piece" and praised it for "taking the reader deep into the ironies of his own ambivalence", Mary Borg in the New Statesman highlighted the "glaring unlikeliness" of the plot, while the Times Literary Supplement called the book "a mechanical exercise in self-pastiche, employing all [Highsmith's] familiar devices and rehearsing most of her familiar obsessions, but with none of the vigour, inventiveness or intensity which in her best work makes those devices and obsessions seem so rivetting".

"Such reviews," wrote Andrew Wilson in Beautiful Shadow, "compelled Graham Greene to write to Highsmith expressing his disgust at the stupidity of the critics and admiration for the book itself, noting that it was 'one of the best and most complex of your novels'." Greene was a fan of Highsmith's work – as was she of his; he's one of the very few authors she namechecks in Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction – and the two corresponded for years. Greene also provided the foreword to Highsmith's first collection of short stories, Eleven (alias The Snail-Watcher and Other Stories, 1970) – as quoted on the back of the Heinemann edition of A Dog's Ransom – and I'll be taking a look at that book in my next post.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Bookshelves of the Two-Year-Old Daughter of a Chronic Book Collector

Speaking of Edie, as I was last week, I thought it might be instructive to see what the bookshelves of the two-year-old daughter of an inveterate book collector look like. A bit like this, in fact:

Those are the shelves in the alcove in Edie's bedroom. Quite a lot of books crammed in there; mostly picture books; mostly, but not exclusively, foraged from the charity shops of Lewes and, occasionally, Brighton. Favourites – both Edie's and mine and Rachel's – among that little lot include Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali's Jemmy Button (subtitle The Boy That Darwin Returned Home, Templar, 2013); Heapy & Heap's Very Little Red Riding Hood (David Fickling, 2013); Helen Ward's Wonderful Life (Templar, 2007); and Jason Hook and Ilaria Demonti's Wendy and the Wallpaper Cat (V&A, 2015; more on that one soon). Also firm favourites with Edie are Tony Millionaire's Little and Large (2005) and That Darn Yarn (both Dark Horse, 2005), which are on the top shelf; those actually come from my collection of Millionaire's various Sock Money works, but after reading them to Edie it became evident they really belonged on her shelves, and now she asks for "Sock Monkey" on a regular basis.

At the bottom of the alcove are more books, and yet more in a little bookcase next to it. Favourites among that lot include the Little Miss and Mr. Men box sets (the latter with Anna out of Frozen sitting atop it) and Judith Kerr's Bedtime Tales set, especially The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Mog the Forgetful Cat. And there are other entries in the Mog series scattered throughout Edie's book collection, including here:

A shelving unit downstairs in the lounge which originally housed some of my records but now houses rather fewer of my records and rather more of Edie's books and toys. Still, I only have myself to blame there...

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Eastbourne Book Buys: Victor Canning's Birds of a Feather (Heinemann, 1985) and the Last of Tome

NB: Linked in Friday's Forgotten Books, 12 June 2015.

We had a family outing to Eastbourne a couple of weeks ago, the highlight of which was undoubtedly Edie's first proper experience of paddling in the sea:

Which, after a cautious start – she was initially reluctant to put her feet down on the wet squelchy sand at the water's edge – entailed much squealing and dashing back and forth into the lapping waves. But as much fun as that was, almost as thrilling in its own way, at least for me (although rather less so, I imagine, for Edie and Rachel), was the acquisition of this:

A 1985 Heinemann first edition of Victor Canning's Birds a Feather, which I bought in Eastbourne secondhand bookshop institution Camilla's, priced £4.50. The final novel in Canning's Birdcage espionage series, it was the only one I was missing in first (non-ex-library copies are quite hard to come by), so when I spied it on the shelves in the basement of Camilla's – luckily it was on one of the higher shelves, otherwise it would've been obscured by the piles of books that sit on the floor in front of the lower third of the bookcases in the basement – I was delighted. Naturally I've added it to the Existential Ennui Victor Canning Birdcage First Edition Book Cover Gallery and to British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s.

But while Camilla's marches on in much the same fashion as it ever has – well, in my experience, in the half-dozen years I've been going there – another, more recent Eastbourne secondhand bookshop is breathing its last. Tome, which opened its doors on Terminus Road (an apt location in retrospect) near the seafront a few years ago, is closing – indeed may already have closed by the time I publish this post. I was alerted to this sorry state of affairs by Existential Ennui reader Gerald, so the trip to Eastbourne was motivated at least in part by a desire to have a last look at Tome's wares. Books were being packed in boxes on the day we were there, but there were still lots on display, all priced at 50p rather than the usual £2 (I do wonder whether that pricing policy was a factor in the closure), and though there wasn't anything I desperately wanted – I've raided Tome's shelves too thoroughly on a number of prior occasions – I still managed to find a few things of interest:

On the bottom row, a 1965 Hodder & Stoughon first edition of The Third Side of the Coin, Francis Clifford's tenth novel – quite uncommon in first that one – and a 1968 Jonathan Cape first edition of The Killing Season, the debut novel by John Redgate, alias actor Adam Kennedy; and on the top row, a 1981 Cape first edition of Once a Spy, Rennie Airth's second novel – also uncommon, not to mention pricey, in first (at least sixty quid on AbeBooks) – and a 1991 Picador first edition of The Mexican Tree Duck, James Crumley's fifth novel. A good illustration of the kinds of unexpected delights Tome invariably offered up, and why the place will be sorely missed. And as further illustration, here's a pile of books I bought in Tome last year – including a signed 2006 No Exit Press first of James Sallis's Drive – as photographed on Eastbourne beach shortly after (and posted on Twitter, but not, heretofore, on Existential Ennui):

And here's Edie – who at two years old has lived her entire life with Tome in it, to the extent that on one occasion she even ate her lunch in the place (and on another occasion, did a poo there) – photobombing:

Cheerio then, Tome. And thanks for all the books.