Frank S. Brown’s “Contingent Ditties” (1915) 1st Edition Dust Jacket….


Contingent Ditties by Frank S. Brown. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. 1915. 79pp.

This lovely, though somewhat chipped copy of Frank S. Brown’s Contingent Ditties arrived in the post this week from The Known World Bookshop in Victoria, Australia.

One of the things I’ve been struck by is just how dainty many of these collections of WWI poetry are.  This volume is not much larger than the image above, measuring just less than 4″x 7″ and is a decidedly pretty thing.  Each of the thirteen poems is preceeded by a blank verso facing a title-page, while the top of each printed page is adorned with one of a series of eight repeating illustrations.

Here’s an example:img040Sorry the image is a little less than crisp; it has been blown up to more than twice its actual size.  Two of the eight images are less martial than the one above: one is a pattern of maple leaves, another the one below.

img041Brown was a Canadian you say?  Hmmm….lemme see….make sure the woodland scene contains beaver….why yes, squirrels and foxes would go nicely as well.  That should please the colonials….

♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

I have a small but respectable collection of 1890’s literature, mostly published by John Lane’s The Bodley Head; these WWI poetry collections (Frederick George Scott’s In the Battle Silences is a similarly dainty, aesthetically pleasing volume) bear a striking resemblance to the small-press books of the Decadent era in terms of their physical characteristics.  Thick paper, wide white margins, a deckle edge.  Lovely.  I keep giving in to the urge to fondle it.

img039This book is available at the internet archive here.  I’ll post all the poems in the coming weeks, and elaborate on what little I know of the brief life of Frank Brown in subsequent posts.  There are a half-dozen copies on Abe in the $20.oo-40.oo range, should you be interested.

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1 Response to Frank S. Brown’s “Contingent Ditties” (1915) 1st Edition Dust Jacket….

  1. Hello,
    My Frank S. Brown was my father’s uncle. My father has a copy of “Contingent Ditties”. When our family visited Ypres we found Frank’s name carved on the Menin Gate. My grandfather, Frank’s younger brother, volunteered to go overseas October, 1916 at the age of 18. This was only 1 1/2 years after Frank was killed in action. As he was his parents’ only other son, this must have been terribly distressing. However, he survived the war and returned to become a physician. He had the opportunity to see his brother’s name at Menin Gate in 1958 when he went overseas to visit some of the WWI battle locations including a very quiet Vimy Ridge memorial. In 1936, my grandfather joined the 6,200 Canadians who made the “pilgrimage” for the unveiling of the new memorial. We have home movies of his visit to the unveiling where King Edward VIII spoke.

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