Monday 12 October 2015

Big Morning Blues by Gordon Williams (Hodder, 1974): Signed and Inscribed First Edition

Authors inscribe books to all sorts of people and for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they inscribe them for fans, to add a personal touch; sometimes they inscribe them to friends or confidants, to associates, acquaintances or correspondents, to family or loved ones. Sometimes they inscribe them to fellow writers and their spouses, to journalists, interviewers, filmmakers and, yes, bloggers. They might inscribe them to folk who've helped them in some way with that book or with their career – to their publisher or editor, their translator or again some friends – or who they've worked with in film or TV – a co-writer maybe, or an actress. Or they might inscribe a book with the express intention of seeing that book turned into a television series, as is the case with this one:

Big Morning Blues by Gordon Williams, published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1974, dust jacket design by Jeff Godwin, who I'm guessing is Jefferson Godwin, designer of the jacket for the 1973 Hodder edition of Brian Garfield's Death Wish; in any case, I've added Godwin's jacket for Big Morning Blues to British Thriller Book Cover Design of the 1970s and 1980s, even though the novel's not so much a thriller as an evocation of London's hard-drinking underworld, or "The Rookery", as the story has it (reviews here and here).

Williams is probably best known these days as the writer of The Siege of Trencher's Farm (1969), filmed by Sam Peckinpah in 1971 as Straw Dogs, but he has well over a dozen other novels to his credit, including The Man Who Had Power Over Women (1967), which was filmed in 1970, and four novels co-written with football manager Terry Venables, three of them a series (published by Macmillan from 1974–76 under Williams and Venables' joint pen name, P. B. Yuill) starring cockney private eye James Hazell which begat an ITV show, Hazell, in 1978.

Evidently Williams imagined Big Morning Blues had telly potential too, because this copy of the book – which I acquired from book dealer Jamie Sturgeon – has the following inscription on the half-title page:

The inscription reads:

Dear Jacky,

Could you read this quickly with a view to making an offer for network dramatisation?

Best wishes,


I've not been able to work out who "Jacky" is – Williams's agent? A television producer? – but I don't believe the novel ever did make it onto the telly (at least not according to IMDB). Unlike the next inscribed book I'll be blogging about: a 1967 spy thriller by a writer who was instrumental in the rebirth of Hammer Films.

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