Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Birthday Books of the Day: Four Nevil Shute first editions


Henry Bemis Books is pleased to offer four works by the Anglo-Australian writer Nevil Shute, born today in 1899. An aeronautical engineer for over twenty years (he was known there by full name, Nevil Shute Norway), Shute was a well-established author by the end of World War II. He emigrated to Australia in 1950 and lived there until his death a decade later. He remains best known for his nuclear war novel, On The Beach; many of his books have been made into movies and television programs over the last fifty years.

Shute has proved a remarkably durable author, inspiring fans generation after generation. Vintage Books republished his 24 books in 2009, and maintains a Nevil Shute Page on Facebook; The Nevil Shute Norway Foundation burnishes his reputation online.

We have four Shute first editions in stock:

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Shute, Nevil, Ordeal (William Morrow, 1st. ed., 1st printing, 1939; published in the UK as What Happened to the Corbetts, 1938). An astonishingly prescient tale of life in Southampton, England, as war breaks out and night-after-night air raids begin. His home destroyed, Peter Corbett and his family hang on as best they can until cholera breaks out; fleeing into the countryside, they face new challenges trying to maintain their life together as the world seems to fall apart around them. Few have imagined the home consequences of war as well as Shute, whose sad, noble portrayal of people facing a certain end in On The Beach remains a classic. Octavo, dustjacket a bit chipped about the edges. Good condition. 280 pp. HBB price: $25.


Shute, Nevil, Vinland the Good (William Morrow, 1st ed., 1946). The famed Australian author of On The Beach turns his hand to drama with this modern retelling of Eric the Red, Leif Ericsson and the exploration of America in the form of a movie script. Hardcover, unclipped dust jacket with some wear and tear about the edges. The book itself in very good condition. Very rare. HBB price: $95.

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Shute, Nevil, The Breaking Wave (William Morrow, 1st ed., 1st printing, 1955). LOC 55-6369. Originally published as Requiem for a Wren. A ripping yarn, as they used to say, from the author of On The Beach. This time, an Australian called Alan returns home after five years to find a family retainer, Jessie, has been found dead. Before her death, she destroyed all her papers, so all she is in repose is a name. Alan sets out to rediscover her life, and, in the process, finds his own. A solid, well-told tale. Octavo, dustjacket a bit chipped about the edges, slight forward lean. Good condition. 282 pp. HBB price: $25.]

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Shute, Nevil, On The Beach (William Morrow, 1st American ed., 1st printing, 1957). LOC 57-9158. Shute’s masterpiece, On The Beach a 1957 post-apocalyptic novel written by British-Australian author Nevil Shute after he emigrated to Australia.

The novel details the experiences of a mixed group of people in Melbourne as they await the arrival of deadly radiation spreading towards them from the Northern Hemisphere following a nuclear war a year previously. As the radiation approaches, each person deals with impending death differently.

The New York Times called On the Beach "the most haunting evocation we have of a world dying of radiation after an atomic war."

Sixty years on, Shute’s novel has lost none of its emotional punch, nor its elegiac portrayal of people facing extinction.

Shute's initial story appeared as a four-part series, The Last Days on Earth, in the London weekly periodical Sunday Graphic in April 1957. For the novel, Shute expanded on the storyline. The story has been adapted twice as a film (in 1959 and 2000) and once as a BBC radio broadcast in 2008. 5.5” x 8”, 320 pp., hardcover, unclipped dust jacket showing $3.95 original price. Near-fine dust jacket with only a few slight chips at the edges. HBB price: $60.

Henry Bemis Books is one man’s attempt to bring more diversity and quality to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg market of devoted readers starved for choices. Our website is at www.henrybemisbookseller.blogspot.com.  Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory. Shipping is always free; local buyers are welcome to drop by and pick up their purchases at our location off Peachtree Road in Northwest Charlotte if they like. #RareBooks #HenryBemisBooks #Shute #Wartime #Charlotte

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