• David Morris

COLLECT: Mary Westmacott first editions

Under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott, Agatha Christie wrote six novels that are best categorized as fictional novels. For fans of Christie’s work, they are an essential read and for collectors these first editions belong in any complete Christie library. Fortunately the cost of these books is generally significantly lower than Christie mysteries from the same period. This is somewhat surprising given that the print runs for Westmacott books were significantly less. However, the appeal and reach of these titles never achieved the heights of her mysteries. For collectors, when you consider the scarcity of very good jacketed copies paired with the current market pricing, it makes these books of exceptional value for Christie collectors.


1930: Giant's Bread

The original painting by Margaret Macadam

First published in the UK by William Collins & Sons, London in April 1930, priced 7/6 on the spine. The first US printing was by Doubleday, Doran & Company, New York in August 1930, priced $1.00. Of note, the US publisher put the apostrophe after Giants - i.e. Giants' Bread.

The original UK dust jacket was created by British illustrator Margaret Macadam who also designed other book jackets in the 1930s for various publishers. Her archives were discovered in 2016 and the original art for this book, in watercolour and pencil sized 37.5x25cm, was sold for a steal at £550.

The UK book is of legendary scarcity in a jacket. A 3/6 later issue jacket is also known. Neither have shown for sale in recent history and would command a significant price if they did. It is by far the rarest of the Westmacott titles to find. The US version does appear for sale periodically. At the 2019 Heritage Auction a very good jacketed US first sold for $282 US.


1934: Unfinished Portrait

This semi-autobiographical novel was first published in the UK by William Collins & Sons, London in March 1934, priced 7/6 on the spine. The first US printing was by Doubleday, New York, in [Nov-Dec] 1934, priced $2.00. The US first printing used the same cover art for its jacket as the Collins book. While scarce in jacket, at Heritage Auctions in 2019, a very good jacketed UK first sold for $1,875 US. The US edition is also scarce, but will periodically show for sale and is fairly valued at $300 for a very good jacketed first.


1944: Absent in the Spring

First published in the UK by William Collins & Sons, London in August 1944. The green and white jacket is priced 7s 6d net on the front flap. The first US printing was by by Farrar & Rinehart, New York in [Sep-Dec] 1944. A copy of the scarce Collins first in very good condition sold on eBay in April 2021 for $885 US. The US first is uncommon but will periodically show for sale. A fair value is $100 US for a very good jacketed copy.


1948: Rose and the Yew Tree

First published in the UK by William Heinemann Ltd, London in November 1948. The red and white jacket is priced 8s 6d net on the front flap. The first US printing was by Farrar & Rinehart, New York, in [Nov-Dec] 1948. It was reprinted by Collins in 1973, along with her other later books, marking a return to this publishing house for the first time since 1944 for Westmacott penned books. The UK first is still surprisingly hard to find and will likely cost £300-500 for a very good jacketed UK first edition. The US first is more common and generally can be bought for $75 US for a very good jacketed copy.


1952: A Daughter's a Daughter

First published in the UK by Heinemann, London on November 24, 1952. It is priced 10s 6d on the front flap. The first US appearance was in paperback, published by Dell Books, New York in September 1963. It did not appear in hardback in the US until 1973 when published by Arbor House, New York. At Heritage Auctions in 2019, a very good plus inscribed UK first sold for $781 US. Without an inscription, the UK title can generally be found for under £100. The Dell paperback can be fairly challenging to find as its print run was small, but when found is usually $10 US or less.


1956: The Burden

First published in the UK by Heinemann, London on November 12, 1956. The first US appearance was in paperback, published by Dell Books, New York in September 1963. It did not appear in hardback in the US until 1973 when published by Arbor House, New York. It was also republished by William Collins & Sons in 1973. At the 2019 Heritage Auction, a inscribed UK first sold for $781 US. Without an inscription, the UK title can generally be found for under £100. The first Dell printing is still fairly hard to find, but it does surface and can usually be acquired for $10 US or less.


Happy hunting!

152 views0 comments