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.
A spy drama from Christie based on her own experiences in Baghdad.
William Belcher designed the jacket of this famous novel about a day-dreamer.
Edward Bawden designed the jacket. Murdoch's second novel.
Durrell's third travel memoir.
A comprehensive but readable study - rituals, celebrations, exorcisms etc.
Historical fiction from Buck. Jacket by Robert Haberstock
Collection of eight short stories. Jacket illustrated by Edward Sweet.
Part of the Winston juvenile series – introduced many youngster to sci-fi.
Ninety full-page cartoons of macabre humor.
Posthumously published novel - won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for literature.
A 15-year history of a salvage tug operating off the coast of Newfoundland & Nova Scotia.
A book about how to build computers - edited by W.W. Stifler.
Spark's first book – scarce to find one with its dust jacket intact.
Twelve short stories – dust jacket designed by Keith Vaughan.
A boy tries to save a kitten and is hit by a truck. He returns as a cat.
An adventure novel from the writer best known for Exodus and Trinity.
A 'Duke de Richleau' historical thriller. Wheatley's also famous for his horror.
Fiction – an Irish cavalryman leads freed slaves and Comanches on a buffalo hunt.
Dog stories, written and illustrated by Thurber.
Many first editions from the beloved Madeline series are available at a variety of prices.
Jacket by Richard Powers. Influential sci-fi novel about parallel time.
Van der Post immigrated to England over apartheid. Forgotten travel classic.
A five-star general's account of World War II, including photos, maps and charts.
Basis for Stanley Kubrick's break-through film noir, The Killing.
Golf memoir by the inventor of the modern sand wedge and one of the game’s all-time greatest players.