God’s Sparrows by Philip Child – 1st UK Dustjacket…


God’s Sparrows by Philip Child. London: Thornton Butterworth Ltd, 1937.
319pp. 1st & only hardcover edition.

Just arrived today (and wedged into my mailbox with the sort of contempt only Canada Post can muster; no ill effects to report, other than to my blood-pressure).

Philip Child’s first two novels, The Village of Souls (1933) and God’s Sparrows (1937) were both published by Thornton Butterworth in the UK, and neither saw publication here until Ryerson republished Souls in 1948 & McClelland & Stewart issued a NCL paperback of Sparrows in 1978.

This is probably the least inspired of the illustrated dust jackets from the period, and certainly cannot compare with either Acland’s All Else is Folly or the marvelous jacket for Dent’s Show Me Death!  Still, it’s beginning to grow on me.


The rear cover. Note the manicule on the front cover begging us to flip it over to find out “what the story is about.”

And just because I’m fond of doing so, the inside flaps:


Front inside flap.


Rear inside flap.

Finding a copy of God’s Sparrows in dust jacket, especially one as good as this, is a difficult task.  I’ve been hunting for awhile now, and this one turned up online for the princely sum of $35.oo.  One of the wonderful things about there being no copies of a given title for sale anywhere online (particularly on ABE) means that sellers don’t get swept up in ridiculous valuations.  This was a very good buy, but I really don’t think there’s a huge market for Child first editions, even when they’re destined to become part of a larger collection of Canadian WWI literature.  Similarly, I found a first edition of Village of Souls in a lovely jacket, but the seller wanted £75.oo for it.  I’ve offered him £25.oo and the rejoinder, ‘who else is going to buy it?’  He’s having a think.  I’ll post it when I eventually pick it up.

A lovely bonus to this copy was a Christmas card tucked inside.  It seems wrong to be posting such things when we’re breaking heat-records in Vancouver, but…




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3 Responses to God’s Sparrows by Philip Child – 1st UK Dustjacket…

  1. praymont says:

    Thanks for this post. I don’t know if you’ve noted this before, but the CBC aired a ½-hour drama based on God’s Sparrows on November 12, 1970. It was produced by David Peddie, directed by Peter Carter, and starred Donnelly Rhodes and Tim Henry. This TV show was part of a series called Theatre Canada: Canadian Short Stories, A brief description can be found about 4/5 of the way down the page at http://www.film.queensu.ca/cbc/T.html .

    • Thanks for reminding me of this –I just went through my Child notes, and I have a reference to this production from a book about CBC dramas after 1950 by Mary Jane Miller called ‘Turn Up the Contrast.’ She claims she had not seen this production, claiming it was ‘mangled, missing, or gone for good.’ I didn’t look into it further until just now. I contacted CBC archives, and they have a copy, but nobody can see it: something about rights and lisensing. There’s a loophole though. Anyone associated with the production can obtain a copy, or release a copy to me. Unfortunately it appears the producer & director are deceased. My best bet, is to track down Donnelly Rhodes (who films a lot near me) or, because Child was listed as the writer of the program, is to get a letter of permission from his literary estate. The hunt is on. I’ll let you know how it goes.

      Presuming, of course, you don’t already have a copy you could e-mail me….

      • Stephen McGregor says:

        James! I’ve been searching for this film ever since I saw it back in the 70s on CBC. I was a kid then, forgot the title. Just this week I got a lead from a Canadian military writer who remembered that “sparrow” seemed to be part of the title. I badly want to watch God’s Sparrow again. Did you have any luck in contacting Donnelly Rhodes, or Child’s estate? Do you remember the big soldier who shoots the German machine gunner point blank after the grenade explodes? I seem to think that this character was played by the late Albert Salmi…does this ring a bell? E-mail me at srj.mcgregor@yahoo.ca


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