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201 items found:

COBBAN, J. Maclaren. A Soldier and a Gentleman. NY, Lovell, Coryell [c1893?]. Octavo publisher's grey cloth blocked in gilt & black. Au$125

A thriller. First edition? The copyright date is 1891 - the year it was serialised in Chambers Journal - and the adverts date this copy about 1893 or 94 but this still predates Hubin and the BMC by a decade and appears to predate a Street & Smith issue.


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HUME, Fergus. A Knight of the Road. A Romance. in the 1894 Christmas Number of Household Words. Quarto publisher's printed wrapper; pp5-35 (of 64pp including adverts). Au$175

Probably the only printing of this tale - no other has been traced - a thriller of almost 50,000 words involving a 'modern Dick Turpin'; with an amateur gentleman detective, a somewhat slow police officer and a twist at the end. I think this was turned into the novel 'Claude Duval of Ninety-Five' (1897) which would account for its disappearance from the Hume canon.


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MURPHY, G. [George] Read. Beyond the Ice. Being a story of the newly discovered region round the north pole. Edited from Dr. Frank Farleigh's diary. London, Sampson Low & Melbourne, Hutchinson [1894]. Octavo publisher's illustrated blue cloth (two small blobs of wax on the front cover, marks on the back). Somewhat canted, not a bad copy of a book guaranteed to respond badly to handling. A signed presentation, dated March 1894, from Murphy to Geelong lawyer Aurel Just, "gentleman, Dremanist and possessor of other titles," with a quote from his character Vernon Dreman. Au$950

Only edition of this polar utopia and dystopia which Murphy - I suspect simple perversity - took to the opposite end of the world in defiance of the usual Australian practice of heading south. Heaps of scientific advances and flying machines as expected but reform and enlightened progress can only go so far: adult women are enfranchised until they marry, then the possible conflict between husband and wife is not worth the candle.
"The chief characters seem to spend a deal of unnecessary time in consuming oysters and brown bread" warned the North Melbourne Courier and West Melbourne Advertiser in an otherwise warm review
while suggesting it would be commercially more canny to set the book in central Australia.


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FARJEON, B.L. [Benjamin Leopold]. Something Occurred. [and] Something Occurred. Third edition. London, Routledge 1894. Two volumes colour illustrated glazed boards; the first with wear to edges and quite good the other more rubbed and worn about the edges. The first with 331pp and adverts dated July 1894; the second with 328pp on noticeably cheaper paper and adverts dated August 1896. Au$250

I want to make it clear that this is not my discovery, the work here was done by Rowan Gibbs. Now. The first copy here is, I believe, first edition - 1893 - sheets with a cancel title. There our interest might end except the next copy - the 'third edition' is revised and reset. The revisions aren't dramatic as far as I can see but they are there. That a publisher would take this on for a yellowback reprint is a surprise to me. Something Occurred is a light fantasy involving magical snuff which owes more than a bit to the identity exchange and transformation novels of F. Anstey.


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MacDONALD, Rev. J. Middleton. Thunderbolt. An Australian Story. London, Hurst and Blackett [1894]. Octavo publisher's dark green cloth. A rather good, bright copy. Au$225

Only edition of this thriller - a somewhat sticky novel mixing history into the bushranging thrills - in which we meet the chivalrous and dashing Thunderbolt and equally dashing Major in pursuit, the well bred but unspoilt young ladies, and the rough but true bushmen and diggers. Appended is a short glossary of Australianisms.


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VANDAM, Albert D. The Mystery of the Patrician Club. Philadelphia, Lippincott 1894. Octavo publisher's red cloth. A little used: the cloth a bit smudged, the tips a little worn, but pretty good. Au$85

First American edition, contemporaneous with the English but being such a British mystery preference must be given to the London edition.


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TUCKER, Horace. The New Arcadia. An Australian story. London, Melbourne &c, George Robertson 1894. Octavo publisher's brown cloth titled in black. Spine canted, minor signs of use. Floridly inscribed and signed by Tucker in 1897 to John Cuthbert Traill and "dedicated without permission to Mrs Traill." Au$350

First edition. More romantic thriller - with murderous, will tampering, downright communist villains - than utopian polemic but a serious utopian novel none the less; unusual for the time in that it is not set in the future, a lost world or another planet. It's the story of a number of idealistic settlements, including Amazona, a women’s community; makes short work of the attempted communist society and ends with the triumph of co-operation. But not so much personal triumph, quite a bit of melodramatic death occurs before then. As one reviewer noted, "the author has an unpleasant knack of killing amiable people."
All this is bound to a material if unsuccessful scheme. Tucker and Charles Strong promoted the resettlement of the unemployed in country areas and between 1892 and 1894 some 200 families were established in Tucker Village Settlements in Victoria. They failed for the usual reasons - lack of capital, a declining economy and mismanagement - but did see the Settlement of Lands Act (1893) enacted. Not in Hubin; it should be.


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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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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.


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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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GALIER, W.H. A Visit to Blestland. Melbourne, George Robertson 1896. Octavo publisher's green cloth (front board flecked); [8],310pp. Still a rather good, bright copy. Au$350

First edition of this Australian utopian fantasy, of socialist and republican bent the book is dedicated to the 'world's workers'. Though fairly profligate with words the author has economised by embodying the evils of law and religion in one character: the villain is a lawyer who, finding no use for his profession in Blestland, turns to missionising.
Blestland itself is another planet and the advances of the inhabitants are social rather than technological - transport is by unremarkable carriage or train - and there is surprisingly little description of Blestland or its native inhabitants. Instead the action centres around a representative group of troublesome Sydney characters mysteriously transported to the planet, some while boating up middle harbour. And we thought they were living in Castlecrag.


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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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