Friday, January 1, 2016


The American dust-wrapper from 1928

Dust-wrappers are occasionally the source of interesting comments by authors on their own works.  Recently I acquired a copy of the first American edition of Dunsany's novel The Blessing of Pan, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons in January 1928.  (The British edition had been published by the London office of G.P. Putnam's Sons in September 1927.  It has a different dust-wrapper: see below.)

The Blessing of Pan was Dunsany's first novel written after The Charwoman's Shadow (1926), which was preceded by The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924). And on the rear of the American dust-wrapper of The Blessing of Pan (but not on the British dust-wrapper) is a nice quote from Dunsany himself about his now classic novel. So far as I know this quote appears nowhere else. It reads as follows:


Of this novel, Lord Dunsany writes:

"My Tale concerns some people living about a thousand years ago, in a perfectly ordinary village in a quite ordinary land, only not far from them, little more than one hard day's walk, lies the border of Elfland. Determining that their village and valley, which they love, should at last become well-known among other lands, they took too much interest in magic. Their traffic with Elfland brings their village that touch of mystery which they think will make it as famous as they had planned. It grows more and more magical and gets quite beyond their plans. And one day Elfland moves and passes over the village, leaving them to dream in the eternal calm of Elfland; but their village passes out of all human remembrance." 

 This tale was written, much of it, at Lord Dunsany's Castle in Ireland, the home of elves and leprechauns, and much of their quality has found its way into the pages of his book. The story is filled with all the gorgeous trappings of a super-fairy tale . . .  enchanted swords,and magic tunes, trolls and unicorns, lings and witches, a great hunter and a Princess.
The 1927 London dust-wrapper

The novel is dedicated to artist S.H. Sime, who did the Pegasus illustration on the London dust-wrapper (above), as well as a fine frontispiece (below) which appears in both editions.

Frontispiece by Sidney Sime


  1. And, of course, there's Hazel Littlefield's anecdote, in her Lord Dunsany: King of Dreams, about Dunsany looking at a copy in 1953 and murmuring "I shall never write so well again."

    1. There is another part of this anecdote about The King of Elfland's Daughter worth repeating. Littlefield wrote: "He once told me that the longest period he ever spent working on one book was on this one, and that he found it real work to keep up the pace he had set at the beginning."