Tag Archives: rare books

First Edition ‘The Heat of the Day’ by Elizabeth Bowen #oldbooks #bookcovers

First published in the UK by Knopf in 1948 [below] and in the USA the following year, The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen is one of the ‘must read’ novels about London in World War Two. Written during the war and highly regarded for its authenticity, it is both a spy story and a mystery.

Time is a theme running throughout the novel both in the sense that war has severed the connection between the present and the past, and that time is precious and every minute is essential. Bowen liked to lift the lid from orderly life to see what lurked beneath.

Elizabeth Bowen

Vintage Classics 1998 – my copy

My dog-eared Vintage Classics paperback is the 1998 edition [above]. My favourite cover is probably the 1986 Penguin edition [see ‘Other Editions’ below] with its striking sketch of a young woman with her coat collar turned up.

Read my review of The Heat of the Day.

Elizabeth Bowen

Vintage Classics current ed

The current edition by Vintage Classics [above] is available as paperback and Kindle.

The story
The story starts at a concert in a London park during The Blitz. Stella and Louie are displaced women in the city, both are unfaithful in their relationships. The main focus is on the triangular relationship between Stella and her lover Robert Kelway, and the interfering Harrison, a British intelligence agent. Robert, who loves with Stella, is convinced that Robert is a German spy.

Other editions


Films & Television

Elizabeth Bowen

Granada Television poster

In 1989, a Granada Television drama production featured Patricia Hodge, Michael Gambon, Michael York, Peggy Ashcroft and Imelda Staunton. Watch at You Tube.

If you like old books, check out these:-
Ulysses’ by James Joyce
Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier
The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ by John Fowles

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition THE HEAT OF THE DAY by Elizabeth Bowen #oldbooks #bookcovers https://wp.me/p5gEM4-4A1 via @SandraDanby

First Edition: A Passage to India

EM Forster was born in 1879 and was the author of a number of hugely successful novels. Many were turned into films including Where Angels Fear to Tread [1991], Room with a View [1985] and Howards End [1992]. A Passage to India was his last, and most successful novel, but he was to live on. He died in 1970 at the age of 91. This portrait [below] of Forster by Dora Carrington is dated 1924.

This hardback first edition [above] is one of the rare examples which still has its dust jacket. Published in 1924 by London Edward Arnold & Co, it is now worth £9,750 at rare bookseller Peter Harrington.

The story
Set in the context of India during the British Raj of the 1920s, with the growing Indian independence movement, A Passage to India tells the story of four key characters: Dr Aziz, Cyril Fielding, Mrs Moore and Miss Adela Quested. Aziz is garrulous and naive, Adela something of a prig. During a trip to the Malabar Caves, Adela finds herself alone in a cave with Mr Aziz. She panics and flees. The assumption is made that Aziz assaulted her. The story of his subsequent trial examines the racial tensions and prejudices between the Indians and the British rulers.

The film EM ForsterThe 1984 film, directed by David Lean, featured Alec Guinness, Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Victor Banerjee. It won two Oscars: Dame Peggy Ashcroft [Mrs Moore], Best Actress in a Supporting Role; and Maurice Jarre for Best Music, Original Score.

Watch the official film trailer here.








The current UK edition EM ForsterThe current Penguin edition features a detail from ‘English Women visiting caves near Bangalore’ [c. 1880s]. Photograph courtesy of The British Library.

Other editions
My own copy [below] is a Penguin Modern Classics edition, which I have dated 1979. The cover shows Indore in Central India, where a stone bridge spans the river Soor. It is a detail from a drawing by William Simpson in India, Ancient and ModernEM ForsterAs a classic, A Passage to India has been published in many editions and languages. Here is a selection of some of the covers. The Italian cover is particularly dashing.

‘A Passage to India’ by EM Forster [UK: Penguin] Buy at Amazon

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins
‘An Ice Cream War’ by William Boyd
‘The Sea The Sea’ by Iris Murdoch

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition: A PASSAGE TO INDIA by EM Forster #oldbooks via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2vK

First Edition: The Moonstone

Before Philip Marlowe, Sherlock Holmes and Adam Dalgliesh. Before Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The first full-length detective novel ever published was The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. First serialised in Charles Dickens’ magazine All the Year Round, the story revolves around the theft of a precious stone. A diamond, actually, not a semi-precious moonstone. The title page of the first edition [below] shows the publisher as Tinsley Brothers, Catherine Street, The Strand, London in 1868. Wilkie CollinsThe story
On her 18th birthday, Rachel Verinder inherits a large Indian diamond as a legacy from her uncle, a corrupt British army officer serving in India. However the diamond is not only valuable but has great religious significance, and so three Hindu priests dedicate their lives to recovering it. At her birthday party Rachel wears the Moonstone on her dress for all to see. Later the same night, the diamond is stolen. The Moonstone follows the attempts of Rachel’s cousin Franklin Blake to identify the thief, trace the stone and recover it.

The first edition
Of course there are many ‘first editions’ and not all date from the original publication, they may simply be the first printing by a particular publisher. Although I could find online a first edition of Collins’ The Woman in White, dated 1860 and costing £2,500, I could find no similar edition of The Moonstone. I wonder where they are and who owns them? Fans of crime fiction? Wilkie CollinsThis first edition dates to 1959 and was published in the USA by the New York Heritage Press. George Macy’s Heritage Press reprinted classic volumes previously published by the more exclusive Limited Editions Club. Bound in red Morocco leather and including colour lithographs, it costs £450 at rare bookseller Peter Harrington.

The current UK edition
Wilkie Collins There are many editions of The Moonstone now listed at Amazon, many are self-published and take advantage of the lack of copyright. Above is the current Penguin Classics edition.

The films

There have been many television, radio and film adaptations, including in 1997 a BBC/Carlton TV production featuring Greg Wise as Franklin Blake and Keeley Hawes as Rachel Verinder. Watch at You Tube below.


Watch the trailer here for the most recent BBC mini-series in 2016 [below].

Other editions
Cover designs for older editions of The Moonstone tend to be romanticized, often featuring details from larger classical paintings.

My copy of The Moonstone [below] is a Penguin Popular Classics edition dating back to 1994. The cover shows a detail of ‘The Honeymoon’ by Alfred Joseph Woolmer [below]. wilkie collins wilkie collins ‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins [UK: Penguin Classics] Buy now

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams
‘The Sea The Sea’ by Iris Murdoch
‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ by John Fowles

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
First Edition: THE MOONSTONE by Wilkie Collins #oldbooks via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2sF

First Edition: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

I was a great John Fowles fan in the Eighties. This is my copy of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, dated 1981, a paperback edition by Triad Granada. It is well-thumbed, well-read, as are all my Fowles paperbacks including The Collector and The Magus. I remember being disappointed with the film, disliking the two-strand screenplay. I haven’t read the novel for years, but it remains on my shelf and I will re-read it soon. I find once the details of a story have been forgotten, the pleasure of re-reading increases exponentially. The French Lieutenant’s WomanThe story
Famous for its multiple endings, The French Lieutenant’s Woman received a mixed reception on publication. It explores the relationship of gentleman and amateur naturalist Charles Smithson, and Sarah Woodruff, former governess and independent woman, with whom he falls in love. Set in the mid-19th century, Woodruff is a ‘disgraced’ woman who lives in Lyme Regis where she spends hours walking The Cobb, a stone jetty where she stares out to sea. Smithson arrives in town and, seeing this lonely figure beside the sea, is curious about her.

The film 

Starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons [above], this film was released in 1981 with a stellar cast, director [Karel Reisz], music by [Carl Davis] and a screenplay by Harold Pinter based on the Fowles novel. It was nominated for two Oscars – best actress [Streep] and best adapted screenplay. Streep won a BAFTA for her role. Actors considered for the role included Robert Redford and Richard Chamberlain, actresses up for the role included Francesca Annis, Charlotte Rampling, Gemma Jones and Helen Mirren.

The storyline differs from the novel in that there are two strands, the Victorian drama from the book featuring Woodruff and Smithson, and a modern-day strand about the filming of the story in which the two actors [played by Streep and Irons] fall in love. The French Lieutenant’s WomanWatch this clip on You Tube, the scene where Smithson first sees Woodruff standing on The Cobb [above] on a wild and windy day. Filmed on location in Dorset.

The first edition 

This hardback ticks the ‘first’ box – first edition, first impression – and is signed by the author. Although slightly faded, its sale price is £750 at Peter Harrington. Published in 1969 by Jonathan Cape.

If you like old books, check out these:-
‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen
Watership Down’ by Richard Adams
‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll

‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ by John Fowles Buy at Amazon

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Still loved: THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN by John Fowles #oldbooks via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-2jK