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Tom’s Midnight Garden with ALS by Philippa Pearce first edition 1958

Tom’s Midnight Garden with ALS by Philippa Pearce first edition 1958


London: Oxford University Press, 1958


8vo., teal-coloured cloth with titles in silver to spine; the beautiful decorative dust jacket featuring the iconic illustrations by Susan Einzig; pp. [vi], 229, [i], featuring additional black-and-white chapter headings throughout by the illustrator; the boards and text block near-fine, slightly rubbed and pushed, a couple of small spots to edges; the very good dust jacket in a far superior condition to those usually found, retaining all of its colour along the backstrip, with some wear to edges and minor loss to foot of spine; some creases, particularly to the lower panel, and some closed tears; along spine, and outer edges, repaired internally with tape, the longest, to the upper panel, 5 cm approx. 


First edition, together with an original ALS from Pearce concerning the publication of the book. Written on notepaper with her gold address label affixed to the letterhead, the letter is dated 18.XII.89 and addressed to an Ian Bolton, beginning “I’m glad you enjoyed listening - and that you have enjoyed Tom’s Midnight Garden, too.” She goes on to talk about the publication history of the book - how it was published by OUP in hardback, and by Puffin in paperback. Perhaps the recipient was a little short on cash at the time, as Pearce emphasises that all of her books are in ‘cheap paperback’ and “don’t be afraid of going into the children’s section of your library. After all, you might be some kind of specialist in children’s literature”. She also refers to her daughter being just a few years younger than Bolton himself.   


Tom’s Midnight Garden remains one of the more popular children’s books of the 20th century. Winner of the Carnegie Medal in the year of publication, it is a work of fantasy which utilises the concept of time-slips (a popular theme of the period), in the wake of the Moberly–Jourdain incident, when in 1901 two women claimed to have travelled back in time to the last days of pre-Revolutionary France. The mansion in which the adventure takes place is purportedly based upon the Mill House in Cambridge, where Pearce herself grew up. 


An interesting example of this classic children’s work.

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