Alan Hewer

Number of Books: 5000

Collecting Since: 1975

First Book: Illustrators of the 1860s by Forrest Reid

Best Bargain: All Quiet on the Western Front, 1st in Jacket for £3

Rare Book He'd Like to Own: Night & Day by Isaac Rosenberg

Highest Price Paid for a Book: £550 for Isaac Rosenberg's Moses


Top 3 Books in Collection:

  1. Moses by Isaac Rosenberg. Paragon 1916. 50 copies. Corrected by the author.
  2. The Bonadventure by Edmund Blunden. UK 1st inscribed by him to Edward Marsh
  3. Kipling. Stalky & Co. UK 1st 1899 in dw with some loss to spine.
Home Thoughts and Home Scenes

I collect in two wildly different areas - the literature of the Great War and Victorian illustrated books of the 1860s. My passion for the Great War began when I was a child staying with an aunt who was a nurse in the War & whose autograph book of the time was a constant source of pleasure - with its poems & drawings done by the soldiers in her care. When I began collecting over 30 years ago very few of the major works were still in print so it was a case of 1st or nothing. I now have a website which shows the many rare and interesting jackets which were used on these early volumes - www.greatwardustjackets.co.uk. It is a shame that there aren't more such sites on the web as itís ideally suited to display colorful images. Jackets used on books before World War II can only become scarcer and the striking artwork used on many of them deserves to be brought to a wider audience.

My interest in the illustrated books of the 1860s began when my wife bought me a copy of Forest Reid's Illustrators of the 1860s because she thought the pictures looked nice & vaguely pre-Raphaelite. I was immediately struck by the remarkable quality of the wood engraved illustrations and within days I was scouring the local Brighton bookshops in search of the relevant volumes. As is the case for most collectors you accumulate a sizable collection relatively quickly and then spend the rest of your life filling in the gaps with the rare ones at ever increasing prices. As with the Great War books the number of specialist dealers has declined over the years & if it werenít for the internet then my ability to acquire new volumes would have tailed off long ago.

There is no pleasure in the world greater than chancing upon that rare, much-sought after item - whether on a website or in a shop. Even though you know full well on entering a bookshop that your chances of finding that special book are close to zero, the thrill of expectation never dims. My advice to budding collectors is always to collect in a field with few boundaries. Some years ago I began collecting the 'Notable British Trials' series but there are only 83 volumes. Having got them all I rarely give them a second glance now.