James Branch Cabell : An Illustrated Bibliography

POOR JACK: A Play in One Act

Hall Code
First Printing 1906 (actually c. 1927)









Full Title:

POOR JACK | A PLAY IN ONE ACT | [a line] | Four lines in italics: "What old acquaintance! could not all | this flesh | Keep in a little life! Poor Jack, farewell! | I could have better spared a better man." | [a line] | PRIVATELY PRINTED | RICHMOND | 1906, [all enclosed in a double line box] (see image above).


PRIVATELY PRINTED | RICHMOND | 1906 (A forgery, printed circa 1927, probably by Ben Abramson, proprietor of The Argus Bookshop in Chicago. See NOTES section below.)


Thin crown octavo [22.6 cm. (8 1/8 in.) x 14 cm (5 ½-in.)] consisting of p. 32 as follows: P. (1) title page as above, verso blank; pp. (3 - 5) induction as below, signed "J.B.C."; p. (6) blank; p. (7) "Cast", p. (8) blank; text pp. (9 - 30); last leaf blank.


Tan Yapp-edged wraps, printed on front cover only.


Brussel notes the wraps as "pink". Brewer notes "wraps of various colors", and mentions "tan," pink, and "brown" in descriptions from various sources. Hall follows Brewer. All of the copies examined by The Silver Stallion have been in the darkish tan color shown above. Some variation has been noted, but the range is well within that expected for copies exposed to different environments over the years.


Single line in italics: To R.D.L.: | p. (3) text | single line in italics: J. B. C. (see illustration above). Clicking on the thumbnail will take you to a PDF of the entire induction. You will need to use your browser's back button to return to The Silver Stallion after accessing the PDF file.


brusselPoor Jack is a one act play based on Cabell's short story "Love-Letters of Falstaff", which first appeared in Harper's Monthly Magazine, March, 1902, and was reprinted as "The Episode Called Love Letters of Falstaff" in Cabell's 1905 short story collection The Line of Love. The story was revised for the 1921 version of the collection, re-titled The Line of Love: Dizain des Mariages (Hall LoL-B1 (K)).

I.R. Brussel, in his 1932 Revised Bibliography, reproduced the title page of Poor Jack, along with a letter a letter from James Branch Cabell disavowing the forgery. Later writers have commented on the perceived ambiguity of the phrase "as a forgery sadly bungled", interpreting this as evidence that Cabell was either involved, or at least gave tacit approval, to the production of Poor Jack. Clicking on the thumbnail will take you to a PDF of the two pages of the Appendix. You will need to use your browser's back button to return to The Silver Stallion after accessing the PDF file.


Previous bibliographers have noted that Poor Jack, although dated 1906, is clearly based on the 1921 revised version of the story. The Silver Stallion has not yet compared the text of Poor Jack with that of the 1902 and 1921 versions of the short story, so we are not able, at this time, to report on exactly what changes were made, and how these changes prove the discrepancy, although the Cabell letter reproduced above lists several anachronisms pointing to the later publication date, including quotes and misquotes from Beyond Life and Jurgen.

hoaxThe inscription at left was written by Deborah Covington (Ben Abramson's daughter) on the last leaf of a copy of Poor Jack in this writer's collection:

Oct 27, 1983
Dear John Thorne - my father,
Ben Abramson, perpetrated this
hoax with the help of his printer,
Nat Roth, & the blessing of James
Branch Cabell.
                            Deborah Covington