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 the author 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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Thirteen Books in the Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene

The Power and the Glory (L1)
Brighton Rock (L2)
Stamboul Train (L3)
The End of the Affair (L4)
The Heart of the Matter (L5)
It's a Battlefield (L6)
England Made Me (L7)
The Ministry of Fear (L8)
The Man Within (L9)
A Gun for Sale (L10)
The Confidential Agent (L11)
The Lawless Roads (L12)
The Quiet American (L13)

* Commenter Guy Pujol subsequently confirmed that the Library Edition comprised just the thirteen titles listed above.

** Thanks also to Guy for supplying those missing numbers and making the above list possible.

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Addendum I, 24/7/15; see this post for the background to these additions.

Brighton Rock, Heinemann, orig. 1938, Library Edition 1959, L2

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The Lawless Roads, Heinemann, orig. 1939, Library Edition 1960, L12 (images courtesy Henk Konings)

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Addendum II, 28/7/17; see this post for the background to these additions.

The End of the Affair, Heinemann, orig. 1951, Library Edition 1959, L4 (image courtesy Martina Weatherley)

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England Made Me, Heinemann, orig. 1935, Library Edition 1960, L7 (image courtesy Martina Weatherley)

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Addendum III, 25/8/15; see this post for the background to these additions.

It's a Battlefield, Heinemann, orig. 1934, Library Edition 1959, L6 (image courtesy Chris Fisher)

A Gun for Sale, Heinemann, orig. 1936, Library Edition 1960, L10 (image courtesy Chris Fisher)

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The Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene (image courtesy Guy Pujol)

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The Power and the Glory (continental paperback edition), Heinemann/Nederland N.V., 1961 (image courtesy Henk Konings)

The Heart of the Matter (continental paperback edition), Heinemann/Nederland N.V., 1961 (image courtesy Henk Konings)

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 than 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.