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The book


Critical reception


UK editions




Overseas editions:



United States


1935. Before the book was published in the US, an abridged version appeared there, serialised over three issues of the Atlantic Monthly; quite a scoop for them:


I: ‘Tideways’, September 1935

II: ‘Spring Spate’, October 1935

III: ‘Winter Star-stream’, November 1935


(Reprinted in Atlantic Tales, edited by John Gregory, HWS, 2007; e-book 2013.) A further condensation of this abridgement was printed in Reader’s Digest (July 1947 and August 1968).



1936. Little, Brown & Company, Boston – an Atlantic Monthly Press book, published in June 1936, illustrated with 32 black and white woodcuts (vignettes for the 25 chapter headings etc.) and 4 full-page black and white illustrations (one as the frontispiece) by Charles F. Tunnicliffe. The cover design is unattributed, but is not by Tunnicliffe:


salar littlebrown1936


Tunnicliffe's frontispiece:


salar littlebrown frontispiece



The publisher also put out its own substantial flyer, advertising the book in form of a small pamphlet:


salar littlebrown advert



HW gave a copy of this American edition to his Aunt Belle (Isabelle Adela Williamson, 1863–1944, who never married; she was William Leopold's older sister), inscribing it thus:


salar inscription



Little, Brown reprinted the book in June 1936, October 1936, December 1936, October 1938, and then in 1950 (but possibly there were further reprints in between).



1965. Signet, by arrangement with Little, Brown & Co. and published by the New American Library Inc., New York, paperback; 29 illustrations by Tunnicliffe, including 3 full page. (A note mentions a hard cover issue by Little, Brown & Co. – no details available)


salar signet1965           salar signet1965b


Signet's blurb, inside the book, reads as follows:


salar signet1965c



1987. David R. Godine, Boston; an American edition of the 1987 Webb & Bower illustrated edition. The dust wrapper is exactly as the UK edition.





1936. Nesmrtelný Losos (translation by Dr Jaroslav Kolařík), František Borový, Praha, paperback. Two further editions were published by Fr. Borový. The title translates as 'The Immortal Salmon'. There is a contract in the archive dated 1946 for a fourth edition, the advance being £25 on a print run 2,500.


salar czech1936


This review by Aloys Skoumal appeared in the newspaper Lidové noviny on 2 November 1936, translated here from the Czech by Vladimíra Šefranka Žáková (our thanks both to him and to Vít Kremlička, who sent it to us):


Is it natural history? Poetry? It’s a bit of both, but it’s not just some stuff that has been carelessly patched together. This book conveys the life of salmon in the sea and in English streams not just with professional thoroughness, but also with the artful, secure well-being typical of English nature observers. (Let us remember, in addition to many others, W. H. Hudson and his loving descriptions of British birds!) It is an extraordinary world indeed, brought to us through a unique lens: the world of the ocean’s depths and river currents, captured from various perspectives. It is a pity that this rare painter and psychologist of fish life falls into philosophical primitivism from time to time. However, there are not too many such disturbing places, so we will forgive him that, just as some of the passages are quite convulsively funny. Altogether, his book reads like a full-blown epic about the element of water, full of natural beauty and brutality. Aquatic animals, birds, beasts – each, in the author’s rendition, has its own individuality, with every nuance captured as aptly as, if not better than, the episodic human characters he draws. This does not, however, add up to a cheap anthropomorphism. Rather, it is a necessary humanization in which the essence of the biological history being described is not corrupted, but merely brought closer to us and made more comprehensible to our perception. The translation is remarkable both in terms of its professionalism and its stylistic work. However, a final revision would have helped, as it would surely have caught some of the oversights and the frequent awkwardness that sometimes make the text hard to understand. I would especially like to reprimand the translator for his deliberate use of transgressive and other participles in Czech, which is a mistake all our English-Czech translators make. They should realize once and for all that the use of the -ing verb form that is so popular in English can and very often must be expressed in Czech by a verb phrase.


1946. Fourth edition, hardback; Vladimír Pour, Nový Bydžov; translated by Jaroslav Kolářík. The Vladimír Pour publishing house was closed down following the Czechoslovak coup d'état by the Communists in early 1948.


salar czech1946

Image courtesy of Vít Kremlička





1956. Salar, historien om en laks, Aamodts Forlag, Koberhaven. Foreword by Bruno Jensen. Nice edition in green leathercloth with gold lettering & salmon vignette on front.  (HW once gave an inscribed copy of this to Father Brocard Sewell – see HWSJ 3, May 1981, p.24.)


1956. Laksen Salar: historien om en laks, Aamodts Forlag, Kobenhavn, paperback, with Tunnicliffe illustrations; taken from the US Atlantic Monthly edition in ‘Reader’s Digest’


salar denmark1956





1980. Salar le saumon, Bibliotheque Verte, Hachette (Paris, France) 1980: small hardback edition, translated by Jean Muray, illustrated by Jean-Louis Henriot. (Gives HW's copyright as 1960, from the Macdonald & Jane’s 1960 Animal Saga volume.)


salar france1980





1936. Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig. Tauchnitz specialised in printing inexpensive paperback books in the English language. Their ‘Collection of British and American Authors’ series was started in 1841, eventually running to over 5000 volumes. To comply with copyright, this particular edition is marked 'Not to be introduced into the British Empire'; boxed edition, plus further paperback edition. There is a contract for this in the archive: advance was £30 with 5% royalty on a print run of 6000 copies.


salar tauchnitz



1936. Salar der Lachs, S. Fischer Verlag, Berlin, hardback, no illustrations. Archive contract states 400 Reichsmark advance on 7½% royalty on the first 2000 copies. A version of Tunnicliffe’s map is used as a dust wrapper (but compare the differences – note especially the polar bear and Elizabethan-era ships!); unusually there is no lettering on the spine, which makes it somewhat anonymous on a book shelf:


salar germany1936



1953. Salar der Lachs, Fischer Bucherei, Hamburg:


salar germany1953





1956. Contract, but no copy in the archive: Italian edition, l’Editore Selexione dal Reader’s Digest, S.p.A.di Milano: 5.1.1956. Payment 40,000 lira.



1964. Sàlar il salmone, Bompiani, Milan, illustrated by Maria Luisa Goioa. There were certainly earlier Bompiani editions.


salar italy1964




1976. Sàlar il salmone, Fabri Editori, Milan, and reprinted 1979 (from the Bompiani edition) for schools, which contains interesting extra features, such as the life cycle of a salmon:


salar italy1976


salar italy1976b





1937. Laxen Salar, Bokförlaget Natur och Kultur. Contract was £20 for 2,500 copies, £10 for every further 1000 copies.


salar sweden1937








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