Letters of Marque
Allahabad: A. H. Wheeler & Co., 1891.
Allahabad: A. H. Wheeler & Co., 1891. First edition. First edition, first impression, of the suppressed edition of Kipling’s series of 19 articles describing the author’s November 1887 journey to the Princely States of Rajasthan (then Rajputana). It is widely reported that 900 of the 1,000 copies were destroyed after Kipling demanded that the book be suppressed.
Kipling’s letters had originally been published in the Allahabad Pioneer and the Pioneer Mail between 14 December 1887 and 29 February 1888. Extracts from the letters also appeared within the Pioneer Press’s magazine supplement The Week’s News.
The publisher of the Indian Railway Library, A. H. Wheeler & Co., who already published a number of Kipling’s works, collected the letters and proposed to publish an Indian edition in one volume and an English edition in two volumes. Copyright laws, however, prohibited a newspaper publisher from republishing any portion of a newspaper without the consent of the author. Wheeler & Co. believed they had been given permission but Kipling, on learning of the book, demanded the suppression of both editions.
The letters were later published, again without the author’s permission, in Out of India in 1895 before they were included in the author’s From Sea to Sea in 1899.
Richards notes that “almost every copy has a date indicating the day on which the book was dispatched from the publisher’s premises”. In the present copy this date has been partially erased although, as stated by Richards, “since there is only one issue of the book... various dates have no special value or significance”.
This copy carries the ownership signature of Captain A. L. Phillips of the Indian Staff Corps.
Octavo. Original blue and red cloth, spine and front cover lettered in gilt. Housed in a red cloth chemise with a red morocco-backed slipcase. Ownership signature of Captain A. L. Phillips on front free endpaper. Head of spine bumped, light fading and soiling to covers, front inside hinge splitting at ends, despatch stamp partially erased on front free endpaper, a very bright and near-fine copy.
Martindell 47; Livingston 74; Stewart 95; Grolier 138; Richards A61. Near Fine (Item #4865)