ARDIZZONE, Edward (illustrator). Cecil Day LEWIS (author). The Otterbury Incident. London; Putnam & Company Limited. 1948.
8vo. Publisher's red cloth lettered in gilt to spine, in pictorial dustwrapper with wrap-around design, in colours, by Ardizzone; pp. viii + [ii] + 148; with line drawings throughout by Ardizzone; a clean, bright copy with one tiny spot (2mm) to lower board and light dusting and speckling to edges of book block, internally fresh with a small and neat inscription, dated 1949, to front free endpaper, some light offset-soiling to inner upper hinge, and a little foxing to rear endpapers; protected by the scarce original unclipped dustwrapper (7s.6d.) with fraying to spine ends, some fading to flaps, small triangular loss to tail of spine and upper edge of lower panel (to a maximum depth of 8mm), a few tiny closed edge tears, and one longer, but unobtrusive, closed tear to bottom edge of upper wrapper (2.5cm), now expertly repaired to the reverse with archival tissue-tape.
First edition. A modern children's classic which was the second and final children's book by the poet Cecil Day Lewis, who was Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in 1972.
This novel, set in the fictional English provincial town of Otterbury, immediately post World War II, is told in the first person by one of the principal child characters, George, in the style of mock historical fiction. A pair of rival boy gangs, playing on the decay of a bombsite, manage to break the window of a local schoolhouse and, in a demonstration of unity, come together to raise funds for the repair. Their ingeneous money-making enterprises bring them into contact with an adult gang of counterfeiters and black marketeers. During a raid on the criminals' premises, to retrieve their stolen property, they expose the extent of these illegal operations and become local heroes.