• David Morris

COLLECT: Agatha Christie's Nordic Printings

CollectingChristie is pleased to collaborate for this article with Jimmy Karlsson, a Swedish collector of Agatha Christie’s works. His website http://www.agathachristiesamlaren.se/ (translates to: Agatha Christie – the Collector) is a solid resource for those interested in Swedish editions of Christie’s works. Foreign language editions are often unexplored by mainstream collectors, and while the text may be hard or impossible to read for the anglosphere, the dust jacket art is often very appealing. This article focuses on a subset of the first printings in the Swedish language – specifically those published simultaneously by Holger Schildt, a Finnish publisher. These are essentially ‘variant’ first editions for Swedish collectors. If any of our readers have additional insights or comments that they would like to share with Jimmy Karlsson please contact him either through his website or at bill_denbrough@hotmail.com


Overview:

Jimmy has been trying to create a complete bibliography and collect all publications of Agatha Christie in Swedish for several years now. However, there is one category of first editions that seem to be nearly impossible for him to find - the Swedish-language first editions published by Holger Schildt in Finland. He is clearly not the only one who is looking for these editions, since he doesn’t know any other collector that has all of them in their collection. In Sweden, many of Christie’s books were published by Albert Bonniers Forlag, while in Finland Holger Schildt was the publisher. Between 1927 and 1986 there were only 18 times when the books were published simulatenously. These editions, published for Swedish readers in Finland, are almost identical with the main first editions, apart from the publisher’s name on the cover or on the title page. Note, Holger Schildt did publish many more Christie books in Finland, they just were not issued concurrently with the Swedish firsts - and at the bottom of the article we've provided a couple of examples.


The First Holger Schildt Christie:

The first book by Agatha Christie published by Holger Schildt is Hur Gåtan Löstes in 1927 (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd). This book – which title was changed in later editions to Dolken Från Tunis (The Dagger from Tunis) – is one of the most difficult titles for a Swedish collector to find, and the parallel edition is even harder to find. To this date Jimmy Karlsson has just seen two copies of the Holger Schildt edition and one of them is in his collection. Of particular appeal is that the dust jacket reuses Collin's original artwork from the UK first. For the images below - the one on the left is the Swedish edition while the Finnish jacket is on the right.


Later Printings:

After Hur Gåtan Löstes there were no concurrent first editions published by Holger Schildt until they published the Westmacott novel Isabella (original title: The Rose and the Yew Tree) in 1949. Under the name Christie, it took another ten years before the publisher finally published a concurrent first - Prövad Oskuld (original title: Ordeal by Innocence).

From 1959 until the end of the 1970s the Finnish publisher published several of Christie’s titles in a parallel first Swedish edition and according to various lists two of these titles were even published in both soft and hardcover: Bertrams Hotell in 1966 and Ödets Port in 1974 (Postern of Fate). However, even though Holger Schildt published several titles during these years, they didn’t publish all of the Swedish first editions. It is unclear why they clearly chose to publish some titles but refrained from publishing others.

In the 1980’s, the number of parallel first Swedish editions by Holger Schildt decreased significantly and only two titles were published, the last of which was Mördande Seans (The Sittaford Mystery).


Bibliography:

In total, the Finnish publisher – Holger Schildt (note: the publisher also appears on some books as Holger Schildts Förlag or just Schildts Förlag) – published 18 first Swedish parallel editions from Hur Gåtan Löstes in 1927 to Mördande Seans in 1986. Jimmy Karlsson has seven of them in his collection and he knows a couple of collectors that have three of the others. In other words, there are still several first of these first editions published in Finland to find and maybe some are even missing from the various lists?

Below is the complete list of the 18 Swedish language books that were simultaneously published by Holger Schildt in Finland. The literal translation of the title has been provided when significantly different. Images of many of these covers are below the list.


1927: Hur Gåtan Löstes (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) [Ed: How the Mystery was Solved]. Later title: Dolken Från Tunis [Ed: The Dagger from Tunis]

1949: Isabella (The Rose and the Yew Tree – Mary Westmacott)

1959: Prövad Oskuld (Ordeal by Innocence). [Ed: Proven Innocence/Virginity]

1964: Klockorna (The Clocks)

1965: Ett Karibiskt Mysterium (A Caribbean Mystery)

1966: Bertrams Hotell

1967: Tredje Flickan (Third Girl)

1968: Oändlig Natt (Endless Night)

1969: Ett Sting I Tumen (By the Pricking of My Thumbs)

1970: Mord är Lätt (Murder is Easy)

1971: Mord på Allhelgonadagen (Hallowe’en Party). [Ed: Murder on All Saint’s Day]

1972: Passagerare till Frankfurt

1973: Nemesis

1973: Långa Skuggor (Elephants Can Remember). [Ed: Long Shadows]

1974: Ödets Port (Postern of Fate). [Ed: The Gate of Destiny]

1976: Ridå. Hercule Poirots Sista Fall (Curtain. Hercule Poirot’s Last Case)

1984: Den Mystiske Mr Quin (The Mysterious Mr Quin)

1986: Mördande Seans (The Sittaford Mystery). [Ed: Murderous Session]


Closing Comments:

As mentioned earlier, other Christie books were published by Holger Schildt, and while not 'first Swedish' printings, they are collectible in their own right - many of which have great cover art. Below are two such examples - The Secret Adversary (left) and Murder on the Links (right).

One of our more recent articles was on collecting French editions published by Le Masque which proved very popular and has been widely read (link). This affirms the appeal to Christie fans of learning about foreign language printings. We often hear that Christie is the most widely published novelist of all time with published works in 103 languages, and a currently known 7,236 specific translations, but for many collectors, readers and fans, these foreign language versions remain unknown to those outside the home country. Hopefully this article has shed light on one segment of these translated foreign language books, and the unique journey of one collector to find a subset of them.


If any of our other readers would like to contribute to one of our articles, please get in touch with us at: collectchristie@gmail.com


Happy Hunting!


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