U.S.A. [N.P.], 1918. First edition. Number 3 of only 100 copies printed, signed by the author. A Fine copy, virtually pristine. Housed in a quarter red morocco slipcase with chemise. A scarce work, which has sold at auction only twice in the past 35 years. The present is the only example on the market.
One of the officers of The Irish Guards was Kipling’s only son, John. Despite being initially rejected because of his poor eyesight, John Kipling was allowed to join up after his father intervened. In September 1915 he was killed at the Battle of Loos. John's death caused his father to become involved with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (he devised the wording for the graves of the unidentified) and also write a wartime history of the Irish Guards (published in 1923). The family's grief at the death of John inspired My Boy Jack, the 1997 play by David Haig (filmed with Daniel Radcliffe as John Kipling). The title came from Kipling's poem My Boy Jack which does not reference John Kipling, but the death of the youngest sailor killed at the Battle of Jutland. Richards notes that, contrary to the statements of previous bibliographers, these verses were not published in The Times. Instead, “a special edition of the verses” was sold at a matinee at the Empire Theatre. The matinee was to aid Prisoners of War and other charitable funds of the Irish Guards. Queen Alexandra was present and Kipling’s verses were recited by Henry Ainley (1879-1945), the Shakespearian actor. Copies of this publication were only available at the matinee performance and, as noted by Richards, this “constituted publication for purposes of English copyright law”. The verses were collected by Kipling and published in The Years Between in 1919. There was also a musical setting of the poem composed by Edward German.
Provenance: Ellis Ames Ballard; Parke-Bernet Galleries, 21-22 January 1942; James F. Drake Rare Books and Autographs, New York; Doris L. Benz. Fine (Item #4442)