James Branch Cabell : An Illustrated Bibliography



New and Cheaper Edition?

fga rearHall lists two printings of the Bodley Head English printing, KCH-B1 (E) & KCH-B2 (E), both issued in 1939 and priced at 7/6. However, on the rear panel of the dust jacket for each of the two Bodley Head printings of The First American Gentleman, FG-B1 (E) (1942), & FG-B2 (E) (1943), there is an advertisement for a "cheap 3s. 6d. edition" of The King. The English edition of KCH is not mentioned at all by Brewer or Bruccoli, so if this printing was ever done it was missed by all of the post-war bibliographers. Hall implicitly acknowledges that his listing of the Bodley Head printings is less than comprehensive, and The Silver Stallion has found several Bodley Head printings, binding states, etc., that he missed. Based on that, it's certainly possible that there was a third Bodley Head printing, but to date we haven't seen it and consider it as possible, but not proven.

Our own guess, and it's just a guess, is that this edition is a phantom and was never issued. Paper was war matériel and the War Office carefully controlled book publication by limiting paper supplies to publishers. As an example of this, E.R. Eddison's A Fish Dinner in Memison was originally planned to be issued by Faber and Faber in 1940, but the authorities refused to release the needed paper. The result was an odd situation where a major novel by a respected English author was first released in the USA, by E.P. Dutton in 1941 (the first English printing wasn't until 1972!). By 1942 / '43, when the Bodley editions of The First American Gentleman were issued, supplies had loosened up a bit from the dark days of 1940 and early 1941, but it's worth noting that the Lane issues of The First American Gentleman were printed on tissue thin paper, and additionally omitted the appendix and bibliography for further paper savings. There was a war on, after all, and even major publishers like John Lane were allocated only limited supplies of paper. Readers?