“There is nothing more tantalizing than a thing like this which lingers just outside the borders of one's memory.”
DAHL, Roald. Kiss Kiss. London: Michael Joseph, 1960.
8vo., Original blue-green cloth lettered in gilt to spine; original unclipped pictorial dust wrapper designed by Charles E. Skaggs; upper edge red; pp. 255, [i]; cloth a little pushed to corners, and head/ foot of spine; with light sunning to head/foot of spine and some small white marks to lower cover; light offsetting to end papers and spotting to prelims and edges; jacket with some darkening to spine and creasing to edges; some chips to head and foot and small chip to lower panel; still a very good copy overall with jacket remarkably colourful.
First UK edition, signed by Roald Dahl to the title page. Below is an inscription from Charles Pick to 'Lawrence': "To Lawrence with best wishes and memories of a trip on the Queen Elizabeth in April 1960".
April 1960 saw the first publication of this collection of short stories in the USA. Though it was immensely popular, Dahl had struggled to make any success of the book in the UK, and, as luck would have it, he was to return to England on the SS Queen Mary with his family on the same ship as Charles Pick, a UK publisher for Michael Joseph and the Heinemann Group who had a copy of the collection with him on the boat. Pick offered to publish the collection in the UK but Dahl, undecided, gave him no answer until they docked at Southampton. As Pick recalls in his memoirs, Dahl came running after him as they disembarked, waving a piece of paper and shouting “It’s all yours! It’s all yours!” The offending paper was a reply from his agent, telling him to accept the offer before Pick changed his mind. It was to be the making of Roald Dahl’s literary career in the UK. Why the RMS Queen Elizabeth is specified rather than Mary is unknown, but we can only assume it was penned some while later, when memories were blurred.
A few of Dahls famous collection of macabre short stories had appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire and Playboy, but are published here together for the first time. One, The Champion of the World would later become the 1977 children's book Danny the Champion of the World. Other stories in this deliciously dark collection feature overoptimistic beekeepers, predatory antique dealers and creepy landladies.
A stunning collection with a fascinating literary connection.