Friday 24 July 2015

Graham Greene's Brighton Rock and The Lawless Roads: 1959–1960 Heinemann Library Editions

NB: Linked in this Friday's Forgotten Books roundup.

Further to my recent post on the thirteen-book 1959–60 Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene, with their beautiful wraparound Peter Edwards dust jackets, a couple of updates: Existential Ennui reader Henk Konings contacted me with some information about, and images of, a book in the edition that he owns – one that I didn't even realise was in the edition (I've only managed to collect two thirds of the edition thus far); plus I myself have acquired another book in the edition, perhaps the most desirable one of all, if the novel's fame and this edition's scarcity are anything to go by. Let's take a look at that new acquisition first:

Brighton Rock, originally published by Heinemann in 1938, and published into the Heinemann Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene in 1959, number L2 in the edition. I spotted this copy on eBay the other week and nabbed it for fifteen quid – an absolute bargain, I reckon, considering its scarcity and that a comparable copy of the book on AbeBooks – one of only two jacketed copies of the Library Edition of the novel on that site, both offered by the same seller – with a similarly chipped dust jacket, is priced at £90. That copy, however, like the other copy offered by the seller (which is priced at a rather steep £225, although that one's in better condition), is a 1962 reprint of the 1959 edition – whereas my copy is a 1959 first printing of the Library Edition:

Which makes it a very rare book indeed. But not as rare as the Library Edition book that Henk owns:

The Lawless Roads, originally published by Heinemann in 1939 and issued in the Library Edition in 1960, number L12. Until Henk emailed me, while I had a pretty good idea of which Greene works twelve of the books in the Library Edition were – the ones I own myself, obviously, plus those I'd worked out from my research – there was one I just couldn't nail down. Turns out that book was The Lawless Roads, Greene's account of a journey he took across Mexico in 1938. And the reason I couldn't determine what it was, was that there are no copies whatsoever for sale online. So, my thanks to Henk for solving that mystery, and well done to him for securing such a rare book... and I guess well done to me for securing one that's almost as rare.

I've added both Brighton Rock and The Lawless Roads to my original post on the Library Edition of the Works of Graham Greene, and appended a list of the thirteen books that I'm aware of in the edition, although I don't (yet) know the L numbers of the ones I don't (yet) own; anyone who does, do please let me know. I've also, naturally, added Peter Edwards's wonderful wrappers to the Existential Ennui Beautiful British Book Jacket Design of the 1950s and 1960s page.

NB: A further update can be found here.