Fascinating First Editions from the 1950sby Richard Davies
For many collectors, the 1950s represent a golden age of literature full of rich pickings. The decade is famous for producing books that have had a huge impact on readers and society in general.
The Chronicles of Narnia series began in 1950. The Catcher in the Rye was issued in 1951 and people are still carrying around battered copies of J.D. Salinger's novel. Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man came out a year later. Ian Fleming published Casino Royale in 1953 and that spy franchise is still going strong. William Golding's Lord of the Flies was published in 1954 and illustrated the frail nature of civilization. Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, Jack Kerouac's On the Road and The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss were printed in 1957 – and all three have been tremendously influential in different ways. And as the decade ended, William Burroughs gave us Naked Lunch and ensured literary boundaries were being pushed further than ever before.
The 1950s also saw massive growth in certain bookish genres. The world was changing fast thanks to a series of new technologies but readers were relishing science fiction – a genre that would never look back. Fantasy authors also enjoyed similar success. International travel was becoming affordable to more people and travel memoirs were in high demand. Crime and historical adventure were also snapped up by legions of enthusiasts.
One of the key aspects to collecting first editions from this era is the condition of the dust jacket. There are countless wonderful dust wrapper designs from the 1950s but always check condition.
True first editions of famous books like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe or Atlas Shrugged are very expensive, but this selection of first editions - by famous and forgotten writers - from the 1950s showcases a broad variety of titles at varying prices. A first edition of a 55-year-old book does not have to be costly.
First Editions from the 1950s
They Came To Baghdad
by Agatha Christie (1951)
A spy drama from Christie based on her own experiences in Baghdad.
by Keith Waterhouse (1959)
William Belcher designed the jacket of this famous novel about a day-dreamer.
The Flight from the Enchanter
by Iris Murdoch (1956)
Edward Bawden designed the jacket. Murdoch's second novel.
by Lawrence Durrell (1957)
Durrell's third travel memoir.
Voodoo in Haiti
by Alfred Metraux (1959)
A comprehensive but readable study - rituals, celebrations, exorcisms etc.
Command the Morning
by Pearl S. Buck (1959)
Historical fiction from Buck. Jacket by Robert Haberstock
The City of the Living
by Wallace Stegner (1956)
Collection of eight short stories. Jacket illustrated by Edward Sweet.
Mission to the Moon
by Lester del Rey (1956)
Part of the Winston juvenile series – introduced many youngster to sci-fi.
by Charles Addams (1954)
Ninety full-page cartoons of macabre humor.
A Death in the Family
by James Agee (1957)
Posthumously published novel - won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for literature.
The Grey Seas Under
by Farley Mowat (1958)
A 15-year history of a salvage tug operating off the coast of Newfoundland & Nova Scotia.
High-Speed Computing Devices
by Engineering Research Associates (1950)
A book about how to build computers - edited by W.W. Stifler.
by Muriel Spark (1957)
Spark's first book – scarce to find one with its dust jacket intact.
A Little Stone
by Paul Bowles (1950)
Twelve short stories – dust jacket designed by Keith Vaughan.
by Paul Gallico (1950)
A boy tries to save a kitten and is hit by a truck. He returns as a cat.
The Angry Hills
by Leon Uris (1955)
An adventure novel from the writer best known for Exodus and Trinity.
The Prisoner in the Mask
by Dennis Wheatley (1957)
A 'Duke de Richleau' historical thriller. Wheatley's also famous for his horror.
by John Prebble (1959)
Fiction – an Irish cavalryman leads freed slaves and Comanches on a buffalo hunt.
by James Thurber (1955)
Dog stories, written and illustrated by Thurber.
Madeline and the Gypsies
by Ludwig Bemelmans (1959)
Many first editions from the beloved Madeline series are available at a variety of prices.
by Andre Norton (1958)
Jacket by Richard Powers. Influential sci-fi novel about parallel time.
The Lost World of the Kalahari
by Laurens van der Post (1958)
Van der Post immigrated to England over apartheid. Forgotten travel classic.
A Soldier's Story
by Omar Bradley (1951)
A five-star general's account of World War II, including photos, maps and charts.
by Lionel White (1955)
Basis for Stanley Kubrick's break-through film noir, The Killing.
Thirty Years of Championship Golf
by Gene Sarazen (1950)
Golf memoir by the inventor of the modern sand wedge and one of the gameís all-time greatest players.