The Gold Falcon: Publishing history and press clippings



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Publishing history and book covers


Press clippings covering HW's 1930/31 visit to the USA


Reports on HW's lecture 'Hamlet and Modern Life'





Publishing history and book covers:                                      


Faber & Faber, February 1933, limited edition, bound in white vellum. Matthews (Henry Williamson: A Bibliography, 2004) suggests there were 10 copies but there is no verification of this.


Special limited edition as above, but with individual printed dedications. Matthews suggests there were 15 copies: evidence in HW’s archive shows that there were actually 9, of which one was for T. E. Lawrence – see HWSJ 45, September 2009, pp. 27-8, where the various dedications are set out.


I cannot account for 25 limited edition copies. There was possibly a total of 15 copies altogether, of which 9 had the special dedications. Such information is anyway only of interest as an academic point. HW felt the need to have these expensive copies made and presented to those closest to him at the time, and he obviously considered the book to be special. It is also of interest to collectors, for such scarce items command a high price.


HW's own 'dedication':



gf ltd dedication



The front of the white vellum binding featured a striking design of the white falcon hovering over the drowning Manfred:



gf 1933ltd



The original design for this was slightly different:



gf 1933ltd design



The design was remarkably similar to the illustration that appeared on the title page of In Araby Orion by Edward Thompson (London and New York, 1930), a book of which HW was certainly aware, for he reviewed it in November 1930 for the New York Herald Tribune (the link gives further information about the book and its author):



gf arabyorion






Faber & Faber, trade edition, February 1933 (7/6d) (with several reprints). Anonymous – but the author’s name was almost immediately an open secret!



gf wrapper33



HW gave his reasons for anonymity as follows, in this draft for an advertisement:



gf anon



The Gold Falcon sold extremely well on publication in the UK, going into a third printing very quickly, as this advertisment shows:



gf advert1






Harrison Smith & Robert Haas, USA, August 1933 ($2.50)



gf uswrapper33



A review clipping from the New York Tribune reveals that publication was 31 August: ‘Out Today . . . much discussed in England, about a sort of modern Byron who bears strange resemblance to Robert Graves . . .’



The typescript of a publication press release from the publisher reads:



gf advert2



Harrison Smith & Robert Haas were not averse to stirring up the controversy that quickly developed over the authorship of the book:



gf advert3






Faber & Faber, new edition, 1947 (8/6d)



gf 1947wrapper



Author’s name now revealed, revised text and some real names used instead of fictional ones. It has as a title-page quotation from Francis Thompson’s ‘Essay on Shelley’.



gf 47title






Bompiani (Milan, Italy), Il falco d’oro, dates given in an archive copy are: 1933,1940,1942,1943, 1945. The cover below is of the 1945 edition:



gf 1945bompiani



Matthews states that this was a ‘pirate’ edition, but Bompiani were an established publishing house which had previously published Tarka the Otter (and possibly other titles), and I am sure would not have stooped to such an action. HW visited them in May 1949 after his second-honeymoon visit to Richard Aldington in the south of France – taking his current car, a 2-litre Aston Martin sports car, over the Alps with some considerable difficulty!  HW noted at the time that he was told that Il falco d’oro had been a best seller for years, but inflated rates of exchange and taxes reduced his royalties to almost nothing, and meaningless in monetary terms (but surely gratifying to his literary ego).


HW made a second visit in September 1950 (again after staying in the south of France with Richard Aldington), and again the visit was enjoyable but driving over the Alps fraught!






Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1956



gf 1956mondadori



The publisher's blurb for the 1956 reprint:



gf 1956blurb






In 1969 HW proposed a new revised edition which he was preparing for Macdonald (who were publishing HW’s A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight), for which he enlisted my help. This involved further radical revision and a new sub-title: The Gold Falcon: a Morality Play in Prose (I have examined the thesis set by this sub-title in an essay of that same title in HWSJ 45, September 2009, pp. 5-24.).


HW used the 1947 edition of the book as a working copy for his revisions, but in the end this project was abandoned. Just how complicated the revisions became – and HW's method of working  can be seen from the opening pages of the book, as shown below:



gf 1969working



gf 1969title



gf 1969revisions






Exeter University’s Special Collection Archive holds a considerable amount of original material for this novel: for example, the TS for ‘The Auriferous Bird’.







Press clippings covering HW's 1930/31 visit to the USA:



gf cuttings1



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The following appeared in the Worcester Sunday Telegraph on 9 November 1930:



 gf cuttings5



The photograph below was accompanied by an article so lengthy that unfortunately it is impossible to reproduce here. It may, in due course, be transcribed and appear in the Society's journal.



gf cuttings6



The source of the following article is unfortunately illegible:



gf cuttings7






'Hamlet and Modern Life':


Henry Williamson gave his lecture 'Hamlet and Modern Life' at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire on Tuesday, 10 February 1931. There were several announcements regarding this in the local (probably college) newspaper, reproduced below; Wilfred Owen was so little known in the US at this time that his name is spelled in one of these reports 'Irwin':



gf hamlet3



gf hamlet4



gf hamlet5



gf hamlet6



gf hamlet7




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