Quartette, the Christmas Annual of the Civil and Military Gazette.
Lahore: The Civil and Military Gazette Press, 1885.
Lahore: The Civil and Military Gazette Press, 1885. First edition. First edition, first impression, of the book written by members of the Kipling family. Published in an edition of 250 copies, it is rare in original wrappers and with advertisements at the end. The book includes the first appearance of “The Phantom ’Rickshaw’” and “The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes, C. E.”
Kipling described the conception of this work in his autobiography, Something of Myself (1937). He noted that “in the cold weather of 85 we four made up a Christmas annual... which pleased us a good deal and attracted a certain amount of attention. (Later, much later, it became a ‘collector’s piece’ in the US book-market, and to that extent smudged the memories of its birth)”.
The 16 pieces, comprising eight in prose and eight in verse, were written by “four Anglo-Indian writers” (as described on the title page and remaining anonymous throughout the book) who were Kipling, his father, mother, and sister. Kipling had initiated the publication with the Civil and Military Gazette and it was sold by subscription.
This slim volume gave the 19 year old writer an opportunity to publish his work and he contributed half of the texts. The ghost stories would become better-known and were reprinted within The Phantom ’Rickshaw and other tales in 1890. Kipling’s father had been somewhat against publication of Quartette and wrote to Margaret Burne-Jones that he had hoped that someone would “rap [Rudyard’s] knuckles for the unwholesomeness of ‘The Phantom ’Rickshaw’ and the coarseness of the ‘Tragedy of Teeth’”.
The binding of the publication was particularly chaotic. According to Kipling, the work took place at night by candlelight and he provided workers on overtime with tots of brandy and plugs of free tobacco to encourage the “forty odd men besides binders to keep Quartette going”. Publication was announced on 19 December and the front cover was possibly designed by John Lockwood Kipling, then serving as the first principal of the Mayo School of Art in Lahore. Richards notes that the advertisements “sometimes vary in number”. He states “copies are known with only three leaves, or four leaves or six or even eight, with a blank final yellow leaf, instead of the more standard seven. Copies were also bound without advertisements (at Kipling’s direction for family members)... In some copies the last of the seven leaves of advertisements is pink rather than pale yellow”. Additionally “the rear endsheet has been excised from some copies... with the stub pasted to the terminal leaf of advertisements”. The present copy carries seven leaves of which the final leaf is pink.
Octavo. Original wrappers, printed in black. Housed in a red cloth chemise with a red morocco-backed slipcase. Ownership signature on front wrapper. Loss to most of spine, minor chip at top right corner of front wrapper, some slight rust-staining; a very good copy and a particularly attractive example.
Martindell 4; Livingston 5; Stewart 7; Ballard VII; Grolier 18; Richards A4. Very Good + (Item #4867)