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On the Beach by Nevil Shute first edition 1957

On the Beach by Nevil Shute first edition 1957


London: Heinemann, 1957


8vo., red publisher’s cloth lettered in gilt to spine; in the striking pictorial dust jacket (15s. net) with wraparound illustration by John Rowland; pp. [viii], 312; the cloth lightly rubbed to corners but else near-fine; in like dust jacket, a touch toned along the spine, with some small nicks and creases to edges, particularly to spine tips and upper edge; marginal toning to upper edge of internal flaps. 


First edition. 


A powerful novel, which describes the aftermath of a global nuclear war. In it, a small group of survivors gather together on a beach in Southern Australia, awaiting the radioactive cloud rapidly approaching from the North, with each character dealing with the prospect of death in different ways. Originally published as a four-part series in The Sunday Graphic, Shute’s concept was purportedly inspired both by his emigration to Australia, and the influence of T.S. Eliot, with the title taken from the poem The Hollow Men, which includes the lines: 


In this last of meeting places

We grope together

And avoid speech

Gathered on this beach of the tumid river.


On the Beach has been adapted for film twice, the first just two years later, with Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire in the title roles. 

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