Friday, 21 November 2014

Property of Strand Libraries

Following on from my previous post about the 1957 Corgi Book edition of No Mean City, I've picked out some more of my old Corgi paperbacks - and there are several which have a little story attached to them.

In 1960, the firm published Road Kids by the US writer Bud Clifton with a rather stylish biker cover illustrated by John Richards. My copy's a bit shabby - and it's stamped on both the top and bottom edge PROPERTY OF STRAND LIBRARIES. The bottom stamp has been crossed out in what looks like a blue felt tip pen. It's obviously passed through several readers - and owners - but I've never seen another copy of this title since I picked this book up in a charity shop in Dundee, Scotland sometime in the early 90s.

Bud Clifton was a pseudonym for writer David Stacton (1923-1968)

In 1961, Corgi Books published the paperback edition of Brendan Behan's classic autobiographical novel Borstal Boy. This copy is probably one of the very first 'vintage' paperback I ever bought. It had most probably gone through a few sets of hands before it found it's way to me - including being sold on at one time by BOOK BARGAINS in London's Shepherds Bush Market. But unlike Road Kids which probably had limited sales back in 1960, this 'five bob' paperback edition of the original 1958 hardback of Borstal Boy must have done roaring business for Corgi Books.

A Behan masterpiece for 2s 6d

5s in 1961 

I remember first watching the film of It Always Rains on Sunday on television along with several other of these kinds of British neo-realist films that came out in the late 1940s. Located in the Bethnal Green area of East London, it's perhaps one of the less well-known titles produced at Ealing Film Studios. The film came out in 1947 - the very same year as when A.J. LaBern's novel was published. One decade later, Corgi issued a paperback edition, again with a startling cover by John Richards. It is in fact, a direct copy of an actual scene from the Ealing Film - except that Richards replaced the film's Anderson Air-raid shelter setting with a solitary twelve-paned window hovering in the background.

cover signed Richards in bottom left-hand corner

John McCallum and Googie Withers in the 1947 film. In real life the two actors were married for over 60 years!

The back cover is graphically rather interesting too, with a black and white photo of a cobbled street and cerb, integrated into a smart green, yellow and gold design. The word murder! inevitably printed in bold to encourage sales - which I expect were not that high. Indeed, as with Road Kids,  I don't think I've ever seen another copy of this book on my travels...

My copy of the book looks like it could well have been chomped by the Corgi Dog...

And back to the title of this post - PROPERTY OF STRAND LIBRARIES - I wonder if there is more information out there about this library service?

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