MASON, A.E.W. (author). The Four Feathers. London; Smith, Elder & Co. 1902.
8vo. Original mid blue cloth lettered in black to upper board and in gilt to spine, top edges plain, others untrimmed; pp. [vii], viii, -338 + , publisher's catalogue; an uncommonly fresh copy of a very scarce book with minimal overall dusting; some minor rubbing; bruising to spine ends; 3 tiny and almost unnoticeable holes to foot (each 1mm), and light speckling to fore-, and lower edges of book block; internally very clean and crisp throughout, with a neat contemporary ownership inscription, C.A.Newman Fulham 1902, in a calligraphic hand, to front free endpaper.
First edition in book form, unlocated in auction records, or in commerce, with a dustwrapper. This example with a loosely-inserted correspondence card from the author, headed ‘From A.E.W. Mason, 47, Grosvenor Street, W.1.’, inscribed and signed in ink "Yours very sincerely, A.E.W. Mason, March 22, 1930". The card with some old glue residue to the reverse. This work first appeared in serialised form in the Cornhill Magazine earlier the same year. Both book and card with the neat and discreetly affixed ownership label "From the Collection of David & Patricia Cory". Patricia and David, Aysham authors and bibliophiles, assembled a remarkable collection of first editions largely spanning the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
This classic British adventure novel has been adapted for film 6 times over the years, most recently to celebrate its centenary in 2002, directed by Shekhar Kapur and starring Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson. Its most successful iteration on the big screen though, is commonly thought to be the 1939 Technicolor version directed by Zoltan Korda and starring Ralph Richardson, which was filmed in several African locations.
The story is set against the Mahdist War in North Africa. A young British army officer Harry Feversham resigns his commission just before Lord Garnet Wolseley's 1882 expedition to Egygt and is called out as a coward by his comrades, who deliver three white feathers to mark his disgrace. His fiancee Ethne Eustace provides the fourth feather and his best friend in the regiment becomes a rival for her affecttions. Feversham avows to prove his mettle and reclaim his love.