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191 items found:

ASTOR, John Jacob. A Journey in Other Worlds. A romance of the future. London, Longman 1894. Octavo publisher's blue cloth elaborately blocked in silver and lettered in gilt; 10 illustrations, nine by Dan Beard; 24 page publisher's list dated September 1894 at the end. Edges a bit rubbed and the title page a bit browned. Quite a good copy. Au$125

First English edition, pretty much concurrent with the New York edition. William Waldorf Astor has been described as the richest novelist ever and without knowing the breakdown of the family fortunes I can't argue that, but John Jacob may well be the richest science fiction writer still.
William's pair of novels were no great shakes and neither is this in literary terms. But it is a scientific and utopian romance involving a voyage to Jupiter and Saturn, no worse than most of the didactic science fiction of the period and does provide enough thrills and plenty of monsters. It is set in the year 2000 and Astor's vision of world history over the intervening century can be, with equal or no profit, admired or derided.
Astor was caned by the New York Times reviewer - affronted by his view that time wasted learning the classics would be better spent learning science - who remarked that Astor's description of a "weird scene might also serve in a description of a Dutch Christmas festival".


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HILL, Headon. [Francis Edward Grainger]. The Rajah's Second Wife. London, Ward Lock 1894. Octavo illustrated brown cloth; two plates by Walter Stacey. Endpapers browned, the occasional smudge but quite a good copy. Au$175

First edition. A ripe melodramatic thriller embracing interracial marriage and dirty deeds in the slums and palace of Jhalwa.


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BOUVE, Edward T. Centuries Apart. Boston, Little Brown 1894. Octavo publisher's gilt decorated blue cloth; x,347pp, two maps and six plates. Minor signs of use but quite a good copy. Au$175

First edition. An Antarctic lost race, this time of comparatively recent origin - Tudor England. Toward the end of the 19th century Antarctica was one of the busiest spots on earth, what with lost races tucked in every crevice and lost mariners crawling all over the place. They must have bumped into each other but - like real explorers in central Asia studiously ignoring each other's pack train quartered down the other end of whatever remote village, pretending they each were the only white men for thousands of miles - discretion was the better part of a thrilling narrative and silence was the tacit rule.


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MARCHMONT, A.W. Parson Thring's Secret. NY, Cassell [1895?]. Octavo grey cloth blocked in red and black. A rather good copy. Au$200

First edition? It doesn't seem to have been published in London until 1910. I found a couple of later American printings of this in OCLC, one renamed 'The Marlwych Mystery, or Parson Thring's Secret' but not this, and no British printing until a cheap sixpenny version in 1910.
"One of those exasperating novels which could never become a book, if the people concerned in it had the saving grace of common sense." (The Book Buyer).


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PHILIPS, F.C A Question of Color. NY, Stokes 1895. Narrow octavo publisher's cloth; [4],148pp, frontispiece. The first in Stokes' Bijou Series. Au$75

First American edition, contemporaneous with the London edition. This begins as an unremarkable light romance of the period, until the question of colour intrudes: the young woman throws over her impecunious fiance to marry a rich African prince, brought up in England and 'University' educated. Towards the end we seem to be heading into a crime thriller and we finish with satisfying tragedy.


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EASTWICK, Mrs. Egerton. The Rubies of Rajmar or, Mr. Charlecote's Daughters. A romance. London, Newnes 1895. Octavo publisher's illustrated green cloth (a touch dusty). A rather good copy. Eight page publisher's list at the end announcing this as just ready. Au$250

First edition of this jewel ridden thriller of murder and interracial marriage. The Guardian was kind "There is plenty of sensation ... mysterious Indians and secret passages, and ... a murder, and altogether the authoress contrives to keep up a most praiseworthy atmosphere of creepiness throughout the book." The Athenaeum was more guarded - "not without interest, and the sense of mystery is fairly well sustained" - but not cruel. Unlike H.G. Wells in the Saturday Review: "Mrs. Eastwick imitating Wilkie Collins is quite unforgivable." The usually reliable Spectator shocked me, the staff must have been on a bender: "A story, indeed, that is readable from the first page to the last, disarms criticism".


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MARSH, Richard. Mrs. Musgrave and Her Husband. NY, Appleton 1895. Octavo publishers oatmeal cloth blocked in red and green (a touch smudged). A rather nice copy. Au$275

First American edition, pretty much concurrent with the English edition - and both are scarce - of this thriller of murder, madness and heredity.


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MACKAY, Kenneth. The Yellow Wave. A romance of the Asiatic invasion of Australia. London, Bentley 1895. Octavo contemporary half roan (a repair to the back hinge); folding map and six plates by Frank P. Mahony (two form one view in two panels). A few minor signs of use but a pretty good copy. Au$750

First edition, the same sheets were re-issued a couple of years later as an 'Australian Edition', either form is hard to find. This is by no means the first invasion of Australia novel - an earlier generation's fear of the Russians had produced at least two, and Robert Potter had, in The Germ Growers (1892), written what was possibly the first ever alien invasion novel - but it is early for the Yellow Peril.
The Japanese defeat of Russia a decade later sparked a number of invasion novels but the rabidity of the White Australia movement had produced little more than inflamatory articles and cartoons until this. The Russians are not forgotten - they figure at the centre - but it is the Mongol horde that will (the book is set sixty years into the future) sweep down through Queensland using the land grant railways. This is a long and complicated novel, as much a romance as political hobbyhorse.
Mackay was a politician who had published some outback fiction and horsey verse to a good reception (when was the last time you saw poetry reviewed in newspaper sporting pages? - quoted at the end of this book); here he happily mixes in society life, horse racing and a tragic love affair.


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MACKAY, Kenneth. The Yellow Wave. A romance of the Asiatic invasion of Australia. London, Bentley 1895. Octavo publisher's cloth; folding map and six plates by Frank P. Mahony (two form a double page spread in two panels). Edges rubbed but a rather good copy. Au$1250

First edition, the same sheets were re-issued a couple of years later as an 'Australian Edition', either form is hard to find. This is by no means the first invasion of Australia novel - an earlier generation's fear of the Russians had produced at least two, and Robert Potter had, in The Germ Growers (1892), written what was possibly the first ever alien invasion novel - but it is early for the Yellow Peril.
The Japanese defeat of Russia a decade later sparked a number of invasion novels but the rabidity of the White Australia movement had produced little more than inflamatory articles and cartoons until this. The Russians are not forgotten - they figure at the centre - but it is the Mongol horde that will (the book is set sixty years into the future) sweep down through Queensland using the land grant railways. This is a long and complicated novel, as much a romance as political hobbyhorse.
Mackay was a politician who had published some outback fiction and horsey verse to a good reception - when was the last time you saw verse reviewed in newspapers' sporting pages as quoted at the end of the book?; here he happily mixes in society life, horse racing and a tragic love affair.


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LYNCH, Lawrence [E. Murdoch van Deventer]. Against Odds. A detective story. London, Ward Lock [c1895]. Octavo green cloth blocked in black and gilt; frontispiece. Title browned but an excellent bright copy. Au$75

A re-issue in Ward Lock's uniform series of thrillers which could consist of the first edition, a reprint, or a re-issue of sheets with a new title page which, as this title page is on very different paper to the rest of the book, is the case here. The book first appeared in Chicago, then London, in 1894.


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BOURDILLON, Francis William. Nephele. NY, New Amsterdam 1896. Octavo publisher's decorated gilt cloth. A touch browned around the edges but a very good copy. Au$100

First American edition, contemporaneous with the English edition. Not quite a haunted violin thriller as suggested by the cover illustration but a haunted piece of music - and a violin does play a part.


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CROMIE, Robert. The Next Crusade. London, Hutchinson 1896. Octavo publisher's illustrated cloth blocked in red, yellow, blue, black, silver and gilt. Edges spotted but a rather good bright copy. Au$250

First edition. A scarce sci-fi thriller describing the "coming struggle" between England and Russia by the writer who didn't live long enough to twice accuse H.G. Wells of plagiarism. He accused Wells of snaffling his space ship for 'First Men on the Moon' but died before Wells use of an atom bomb in 1914.


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HORNUNG, E.W. [Ernest William]. Irralie's Bushranger. A story of Australian adventure. NY, Scribner's 1896. Narrow octavo publisher's pale cloth elaborately blocked in dark green. A bit smudged, a couple of blotches near the end, a quite decent copy. Au$100

First American edition, contemporaneous with the English; part of the Ivory Series while the London edition was one of the New Vagabond Series. Here we meet Stingaree, the apparently well-bred bushranger, who reappears in later Horning stories. In this near farce of mistaken identity Stingaree makes the mistake of moving too far south of his usual patch, to the Riverina station of the dauntless, blue-eyed, young Irralie.


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GRIMSHAWE, Helena. Trapped by Avarice. London, Digby Long 1896. Octavo publisher's blue ribbed cloth. Edges foxed, still, a good bright copy. Au$200

First edition of this most uncommon high society stew of murder, theft, fraudulent wills, gipsies and stolen children. I haven't read anything so marked by the absence of an editorial pencil and so in need of one since that model of publisher's inattention, Stoker's 'Lair of the White Worm'.
Just how did the villain have a secret gipsy mother and brother yet have an admirable father and attend a good school? How did he have a mother apparently younger than him? How did the Stanhopes sail to America in a liner decades before it was built? Decades before any such liner was built. How did Stanhope's brother spell his name? They had to yacht around the Great Lakes so that Stella could be gored by a buffalo but why did we have to read the whole itinerary? Why did the Honourable Cecil, so determined to unravel the mystery of the theft of the diamond necklace, forget to return next day to the jewellers for fifteen years? How could Stella and Ethel write regularly for fifteen years and each not wonder why they never had a reply? How did even a falsely accused village peasant get away with three months hard labour for the theft of the priceless necklace? And why did no-one wonder what happened to it? I have many more questions but that's enough for now.
There is supposedly a copy of a third edition of this at Newcastle (UK) but I doubt it. Helena Grimshawe - who has apparently used family records for the American parts - seems a one book author, as does Henry Grimshawe, also published by Digby Long in the same year.


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HILLCOAT, Captain C.H. [Charles Henry]. Ida Hall or a Mystery of the Suez Canal. Glasgow, David Bryce [1896]. Narrow octavo publisher's red cloth (mild signs of use). A bit canted, pretty good. Au$300

Only edition of this uncommon thriller which sees our young Miss Ida Hall of Berkley Square [sic] snatched by slavers from a Port Said hotel. Despite the thousand pound reward posted nothing has been known of her until this account. Fear not, she will be alive and well at the end of the book despite her terrible sufferings. This wasn't Captain Hillcoat's most successful book, his Notes on Stowage went through at least three editions.
Now - at the risk of drawing too long a parochial bow - can we claim some place for this in Australian literature? Captain Hillcoat (Charles Henry Lorenzo Westernra Hillcoat in full) was of a clan of emigres. His immediate family, after time in India, emigrated to America when he was a child while at least one uncle headed for Australia. His sister Cecilia joined the Australian rush in 1866 so the place was soon packed with cousins, nieces and nephews. He certainly sailed Australian waters, as the captain of the Anglo Indian in the eighties and as captain of the Futami Maru in the late nineties. His wife died in Townsville during a voyage, in 1883, and he himself died in Gosford, NSW, in 1902.


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LINDEN, Annie. Gold. A Dutch-Indian Story for English People. London, John Lane 1896. Octavo publisher's decorated cloth blocked in blind; 285pp and 1896 publisher's list. A little browning; a rather good bright copy. Au$475

First edition of this rare Indonesian lost race fantasy; there was also a New York edition which looks no easier to find. I'm not sure exactly where the dread lost land of Moa and its mountain of gold is but our explorers sail through the Moluccas on their way from Java; once we leave the Banda Islands the geography turns imaginary. Ms Linden starts slow but ends pretty ruthless; most of her worthy characters die miserably while our hero is pretty much a faithless greedy madman well before book's end.
There is enough, more than enough, local colour to convince me that first hand experience is at work here. I found mention of a couple of short stories - one about untameable half-caste women (who populate these pages too) - by Linden and one other novel, in English: a domestic drama dismissed as "Dutch fiction" in the one notice I saw; nothing else in English or Dutch.


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SHIEL, MP. The Rajah's Sapphire. London, Ward Lock 1896. Small octavo publisher's gilt decorated green cloth (spine faded); two plates. A rather good copy. Au$350

First edition and first issue. Shiel's second book, part of the Nautilus Series, one of those well meant but ephemeral nineties series. The green cloth hates light and hates handling. This is among the best copies I've seen of any of the titles in the series. A cursed jewel thriller. Myself, I like cursed violins but each to his taste and Shiel cursed enough things to keep us all happy.


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NISBET, Hume. The Swampers. A romance of the Westralian goldfields. London, F.V. White 1897. Octavo publisher's illustrated cloth blocked in red, black and gilt (light signs of use); frontispiece. Inner hinges repaired - professionally by the look of it; a good bright copy with the baronial bookplate of Sir James Ramsay Gibson Maitland who did little to mark his place in the world except unsuccessfully vie for the Lauderdale title and die the year this was published. Au$165

First edition of this partly suppressed thriller in which Nisbet took a stick to the inhabitants of Sydney and a flask of acid to Archibald and The Bulletin who responded with the incensed lack of humour that Nisbet had ascribed to them and threatened legal action against booksellers or libraries circulating the book. This naturally made it "one of the most popular books in Sydney ... passed about surreptitiously, and under pledges of secrecy" according to the Northern Star. The Australasian Pastoralists' Review merely recommended a good horsewhipping.
Nisbet has fun with Sydney's mania for fraudulent occultists and takes time off from the story for Judge Jeffreys - hanging judge and spiritualist who decides his cases by the testimony of two spirit guides. Until he is visited by the ghosts of Chinese murder victims bent on revenge for releasing their killers. I would like to know who the original of Judge Jeffreys is.
Of course Nisbet sometimes goes too far, as in the passage that begins: "Aboriginals, Kanakas, Chinese, Japanese, Afghans, all who do not represent Western civilisation we treat like beasts ... Our murders on them are acts of justice, their retaliations on us are atrocious murders." The Pastoralists' Review was indignant about accusations of settlers laying poisonous baits for Aborigines like pests.
Nisbet avoids his lack of first hand knowledge about the Westralian goldfields by mostly staying away from them. Our hero, the master criminal Jack Milton (not Sydney bred), is rescued by Aborigines from the traps and trackers long before he reaches Kalgoorlie and instead lands in a lost race novel bringing him to an ancient gold mine with a Greek inscription carved in a wall.


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FRITH, Walter. The Sack of Monte Carlo. An adventure of today. Bristol, Arrowsmith; London, Simpkin Marshall 1897. Octavo publisher's maroon cloth blocked in gilt and red. The spine appears to have been retouched but still a rather good copy. Arrowsmith's 3/6 Series, no. XXIX. Au$285

First edition. Is this the first caper novel? The modern caper novel - parent to the caper film - I mean, forget Robin Hood and suchlike. Our young English gentleman narrator tells us how he, stymied in love for the while and unhappy and restless, comes up with the idea of looting the casino at Monte Carlo and sets out to enlist some chums - first among his sister's friends for some inexplicable reason, then among his own old school friends and members of his club - and rustle up a fast steam yacht for their getaway. His sister does sign up for the job.
Gentleman, and lady, burglars were thick on the ground within a few years, they must have been elbowing each other in Mayfair salons, country house ballrooms and the gaming rooms of Monte Carlo but I can't think of an earlier book having such fun with the planning, execution and scrapes of the big score.


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CAPES, B.E.J. [Bernard]. The Mill of Silence. Chicago, Rand McNally 1897. Octavo publisher's illustrated cloth blocked in gilt and green. A bit used, a few spots, a large owner's name on the front fly; still a most acceptable copy. Au$500

First edition of this long neglected thriller, a murder mystery soaked in horror and the uncanny, missed by bibliographers for a century. Doubtless the innocuous title and sylvan binding is partly to blame. An American book but an English story by an English writer, it was well enough described by the Star reviewer in Christchurch, New Zealand: "The author ... dearly loves the handling of the grim, the uncanny, and the morbid; he is a master in the painting of suffering humanity, suffering as a shuttle tossed by the hand of Fate." (Star, 1903, review of the later London edition). Not just humanity, our narrator can't even walk home through the woods without stumbling over a bunny "with glazing eyes and the stab of the ferret tooth behind her ear."
Secret after secret is unveiled in paroxysms of terror and hatred but babbling madness usually raises more questions than it answers. Does anyone survive the book? I'm still wondering.


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ROBERTS, Morley. The Adventure of the Broad Arrow. An Australian romance. London, Hutchinson 1897. Octavo publisher's cloth (cover marked); eight plates by A.D. McCormick. A few spots and minor signs of use; a pretty good copy. Au$450

First edition, colonial issue, of one of the more famous west Australian lost race novels - though lost race is stretching it a bit. The white tribe here is descended from escaped convicts. But they are swimming in gold and there were pygmy cave dwellers.


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SWIFT, Benjamin [ie William Romaine Paterson]. The Tormentor. London, Fisher Unwin 1897. Octavo publisher's cloth. A rather good copy. Au$125

First edition of this mildly disappointing tragic thriller. Disappointing for fans of traditional crime thrillers fooled by the title and chapter headings. But we are given poison and death and any book that received reviews like, "Its story is unwholesome and its style deplorable. One hates to receive such a book for review, for it is filled with darkness, meanness and crime," can't be without value.


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LAW, Frederick Houk. The Heart of Sindhra. A novel. NY, Tennyson Neely [1898]. Octavo publisher's blue cloth blocked in silver and red (spine a touch rubbed). A rather good copy. Au$200

First edition of this India set fantasy with a lost city, native fanaticism and some mightily portentous dialogue.


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FARJEON, B.L. [Benjamin Leopold]. Grif. A story of Australian Life. Seventeenth edition. London, Hutchinson 1898. Octavo publisher's cloth, spine decorated in gilt. A little browning at the very ends, quite a nice copy. Inscribed and signed by Farjeon with an accompanying letter. Au$350

A gift from Farjeon to Mrs Granville Ellis in 1901. The short letter on Farjeon's letterhead explains that it isn't always easy to find spare copies of his books but he is sending three, including this one, and Harry - Farjeon's composer son - is sending along some sheet music just published. Mrs Ellis must be the American born journalist, Anna May (or Mai?) Bosler, who married Granville Ellis twice and wrote under the name Max Eliot. Elizabeth Pennell described her as "that awful American newspaper woman ... a vile specimen! Vulgar!" Gifted copies of Farjeon's books have a longer history than Farjeon himself. Decades later Harry used his father's own copies as school prizes.


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JUNOR, Charles. Dead Men's Tales. Melbourne, George Robertson 1898. Octavo publisher's colour illustrated boards (edges worn). Last leaf, a blank before the endpaper, removed, natural browning of the paper, inner hinges cracked but firm enough; certainly read but still quite a good copy. Au$1500

First edition, Australian issue; the same sheets were issued by Swan Sonnenschein. A most busy collection of tales with, within very few pages, cannibals, a ghoul in the waterhole, a vampiric leper, a death adder, a husband cuckolded by his unsuspecting companion (puzzling huh?), and a fatal curse laid on the discoverer of the remains of the two protaganists (see cover).
On to the second story - and we have photographic safeguards over a bank vault and an hypnotic burglar. Soon we are in the realm of hereditary catalepsy leading to premature burial; horrors in the tomb; a murderous husband who takes a razor to himself to prevent his dead wife meeting her suitor in the hereafter; the inadvisability of women lion tamers; Queen Victoria astral travelling to Melbourne; an Afghani ghost attending a picnic; a machine that will "read the last thoughts of a dead man's brain" ... but I give too much away.
An early reader has, in a tiny neat hand, deemed a trip between the Victorian and the Queensland borders in 24 hours as absurd. The rest passes without comment. The Australian Town and Country Journal's review probably sums up the book best: "irredemiably gruesome ... ghastly in their grim and merciless realism and ... so improbable that one is tempted to resort to the White Queen's recipe for believing impossible thlngs".
Here's an easy to believe lesson for us all from Junor: "The sudden shock to my system, caused by total abstinence, effected so seriously a decline in my physical health that my mental faculties seemed unstrung, and my intellect dislocated".


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