Narnia Books - a plea for a Guide

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28 Feb 2008: A kind eBayer has passed me a link to a very comprehensive list of Narnia editions.  Links are against the rules in these reviews, apparently, so you'll have to find your own way to inklingsfocus dot com ...

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We need urgently to collect together a guide to the perplexing maze of Narnia book editions!  I've seen some shocking listings of supposed 1st editions with dustjackets recently, where the book itself is NOT a first edition and the dustjacket is a facsimile, not merely from a later printing of the edition but from a completely different edition!

The situation is not helped by the early Macmillan Narnia books published in the US containing very little information about their printing history;  many of these seem simply to include the original copyright date, and thus are easily taken to be 1st printings of the 1st edition.  Some of these Macmillan books were published by book clubs but without mentioning the fact within the book itself!

For the moment this 'Guide' is simply a call for the experts in this area to pool their knowledge, perhaps by contacting me through eBay initially.  I myself am no expert, and wish to expand my own little knowledge rather than to wield it dangerously!

For the moment I will try to find time to assemble a framework for a history of Narnia editions, with photos of DJs available to me.  I hope we can produce something useful by Spring 2006.

Right, here is the set of UK first editions in order of publication, including frontispieces as issued:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Geoffrey Bles, 1950


Prince Caspian - Geoffrey Bles, 1951


The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Geoffrey Bles, 1952


The Silver Chair - Geoffrey Bles, 1953


The Horse and his Boy - Geoffrey Bles, 1954


The Magician's Nephew - The Bodley Head, 1955

The Last Battle - The Bodley Head, 1956

The first issue of the dustwrapper for The Last Battle omitted mention of the award of the Carnegie Medal, of course.

The Bodley Head titles had no frontispieces, and those in Lion, Caspian and Horse were dropped from all subsequent editions -- they never even made it to the first US editions, strangely.  In the case of Horse, there were other full-page glossy monochrome paintings interspersed within the text, and these only occur in the very first Bles edition.

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