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Bluebird and the Dead Lake signed by Donald Campbell first edition 1964

Bluebird and the Dead Lake signed by Donald Campbell first edition 1964



Bluebird and the Dead Lake. The story of Donald Campbell’s Land Speed Record at Lake Eyre in 1964 

London: Collins, 1965


8vo., blue publisher’s boards lettered in gilt to spine; in the unclipped pictorial dust wrapper (21s. net), designed by Michael Rand and Dell ’Orco; with photographs of Campbell, Bluebird, and ‘The Dead Lake’ reproduced with permission of Black Star Agency; pp. [viii], 9-188, [iv]; a very good, sound copy; small splash mark to ffep; half-title rear endleaves lightly offset; small stain to bottom of ‘illustrations’ page; the very good dust jacket with some dirt marks to head; lightly scuffed and creased to extremities, particularly spine tips and folds


First edition, inscribed by Donald Campbell “To John Henry/ With warm good wishes/ from/ Donald Campbell/ 17 August 1964! Memories 1965? It is likely that Campbell realised he made a mistake, intending for the date to be the one on which he broke the record. 


During his lifetime Donald Campbell broke eight world speed records on water, and two on land, all in the 1950s and 60s. He remains the only person to have broken both land and water speed records in the same year. Raised by his father Sir Malcolm Campbell, who was himself the holder of 13 world speed records, Donald followed closely in his father’s footsteps. He set his first on water at Ullswater on 23 July 1955, where he achieved a speed of 202.32 mph in Bluebird K7, and six more followed over the course of that decade. His attention then turned to land, with the attempt to break the then record of 394 mph aided by the Norris brothers, who set about designing Bluebird-Proteus CN7 with 500 mph in mind. On a sixth test run in 1960, Campbell lost control at over 360 mph and crashed, with the car's tremendous structural integrity being his saving grace. Despite being hospitalised with a fractured skull and a burst eardrum, Campbell immediately announced that he was determined to have another go. It was then that Lake Eyre in Australia was proposed as the site for the attempt. Despite having seen no rain for nine years, the event was postponed twice due to bad weather, but eventually the team’s patience was rewarded when the CN7 recorded a speed of 403.1mph. 


Campbell died two years after this book was published, while attempting to break another speed record on water.  The dust jacket reads: “It is the story of a man and his obsession… John Pearson gives an eye-witness account of the fear, the tensions, the heart-break and the suspicions that grew behind the scenes as Campbell pursued his dream of speed on a track which seemed to spell certain death”. 


Rare signed. 

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