Christmas Musings 2018: Unique Hatchards Editions

When John Hatchard opened his shop, he was a publisher as much as a bookseller. With this in mind, we are very proud to launch the Hatchards Library this year. Throughout the coming years, we shall reissue the books that we think everyone should have in beautiful, exclusive, collectible editions.

Oscar Wilde was a regular customer, visiting the shop with Lord Alfred Douglas the day before the first production of The Importance of Being Ernest. Many of his books were signed sitting at the main table on the ground floor, known to this day as Oscar’s table. In 1895, Hatchards published fifty copies of a little book of Oscar Wilde’s epigrams, personally-chosen by him; we are delighted to reissue this witty and charming book, also.

THOU SHELL OF DEATH
Nicholas Blake
£12.99 limited Hatchards edition: green cloth binding, stylish dust jacket, exclusive William Morris endpapers. 2,000 numbered copies.

Legendary World War I flying ace Fergus O’Brien has received three threatening letters. He has his suspicions regarding the identity of the sender and invites his suspects to spend Christmas with him. Refusing police protection, he does agree to private detective Nigel Strangeways joining the party and ‘keeping his eyes open’. Cecil Day Lewis, aka Nicholas Blake, was the poet laureate and an academic, and his crime stories combine ingenious plots with literate and cultured writing. Hatchards are proud to reissue this classic crime story in a collectable hardback edition.

‘Nigel, after a brief stay at Oxford, in the course of which he had neglected Demosthenes in favour of Freud, had turned to the profession of criminal investigator – the only profession left, he was wont to remark, which gave scope for good manners and scientific discovery.’ Nicholas Blake

THE DIARY OF A PROVINCIAL LADY
E. M. Delafield
£12.99 Volumes I & II in a limited Hatchards edition: green cloth binding, gold foil dust jacket, exclusive William Morris endpapers. 2,000 numbered copies.

Starting life as a serial in the weekly Time & Tide, these diaries have always been deservedly popular. The trials and tribulations of the middle class during the twenties were many: children were forever making loud and inappropriate comments, staff were always on the brink of departing in a huff and neighbours dropped by at the wrong moment with unasked-for advice. Interspersed are the diarist’s queries and memos to herself, marvellous glimpses into the mind of a twenties lady. This is domestic life at its most amusing and is a perfect companion to George and Weedon Grossmith’s The Diary of a Nobody, also reissued in a beautiful Hatchards edition.

‘Does not a misplaced optimism exist….. that social engagements, if dated sufficiently far ahead, will never really materialise?’ E. M. Delafield

OSCARIANA
Oscar Wilde
£9.99 Facsimile paperback on craft paper, limited and exclusive to Hatchards.

The original selection for this collection was made by Constance, his wife, but Oscar was not happy with the choices (‘the plays are particularly badly done’) and revised them. He also took an active interest in the publication, choosing the layout, specifying exact margins for the book and checking the proofs. This is the only collection of Oscar Wilde’s wit and wisdom chosen and endorsed by the author himself. A small pirated edition was republished in 1903 but otherwise it has remained hidden on the shelves of the early buyers for over a hundred years.

‘I don’t regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure. I did it to the full, as one should do everything that one does.’ Oscar Wilde

To order any of these books please email books@hatchards.co.uk, telephone (020 7439 9921) or, better still, visit the shop this festive season. From now until December 23rd, we are open from Mondays to Saturdays 9am to 9pm and 12.30pm to 6.30pm on Sundays. On Christmas Eve, we shall be open 9am to 6pm. We look forward to seeing you.

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