Tuesday 29 July 2014

Michael Frayn: Signed First Edition of Now You Know (Viking, 1992) and Unsigned Programme for Noises Off (1982)

Returning once more to the signed books I've bought over the past... year? Two years? I must admit I've lost track of when exactly I bought some of these books, including this one:

Now You Know by Michael Frayn, published in hardback by Viking in 1992 (jacket illustration by David Hughes), although I do know where I bought it: in Lewes secondhand bookshop A & Y Cumming. Frayn has signed and dedicated this first edition – to an "Austin" it looks like to me – on the title page:

and put a line through his own name, which is something some authors do when signing books (my first of Michael Dibdin's Ratking is similarly adorned). There's an abundance of signed Frayn first editions on AbeBooks, but at time of writing fewer than half a dozen of those are signed firsts of Now You Know, and only three are the Viking first, the cheapest of which being thirty quid. Whereas I paid half that. Mind you, I have my doubts as to whether Now You Know will really be up my alley. Towards the End of the Morning (1967), Frayn's third novel, topped my 2012 end-of-year ten best books list, but the reviews of Now You Know – his eighth novel – I've seen online are a little mixed; this contemporaneous Independent one by D. J. Taylor is indicative. Plus I recently read another Frayn novel, his 1965 debut, The Tin Men, which, while I liked it, wasn't the equal of Towards the End of the Morning.

I'll be writing about The Tin Men in my next post, but before I get to that, I thought I'd showcase something else Michael Frayn-related that I've somehow managed to acquire somewhere along the way, although where, how and why now escapes me. As well as being a novelist Frayn is of course also a celebrated playwright, perhaps his best known play being his 1982 comedy Noises Off. But I've only ever seen the 1992 Peter Bogdanovich-directed Michael Caine-starring film adaptation of Noises Off (which I rather like), which is why I'm slightly mystified as to why I own this:

A programme for the 1982 production of Noises Off at the Savoy Theatre. I can't imagine I paid any money for the thing; the only time I can ever recall going to the Savoy Theatre was to see the Pet Shop Boys in 1997 (with my mum), and as for the programme possibly being collectible, which is the only other reason I can think of for possessing it, it's not signed by Frayn or the cast or indeed anyone at all, and this production of Noises Off wasn't even the first – it originally ran earlier in 1982 at the Lyric Theatre – so I'd be surprised if it had any value. But own it I do, and I suppose it might be of passing interest to any similarly passing not to mention highly hypothetical theatrical historians, and so I've scanned a selection of spreads for posterity. No need to thank me.


  1. The latest Frayn was awful. Now I'm not sure I want to read the previous ones.

  2. I can heartily recommend Towards the End of the Morning at least, Ray. That one's terrific. The Tin Men is good as well, but that's about as far as I've got with Frayn.