Will Bird’s “And We Go On” (1930)….

A recent addition to the collection here: a lovely first edition of Will Bird’s novel And We Go On (1930) in the extremely rare dustjacket.  This example is chipped, battered, clumsily-tape-repaired and scribbled-upon, but it’s just scarce enough that I’m willing to overlook its faults.

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“A Story Without Filth or Favor.”  That’s an interesting marketing line, tacking right between the two extremes of the war-book boom.

The front cover, as you’ll note, is not terribly exciting: visually, it’s in the running for ‘most boring front cover’ of all of Canada’s WWI novels.  I suspect the print run was so small and sales expectations were so modest, Hunter-Rose Co. Limited decided not to shell out for an illustrator, but I’m not familiar enough with the press to know if this style of cover was typical or just an economy.

However, there is another possibility, and the rear cover gives us a clue:

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Private Timothy Fergus Clancy (1930) was published by the Graphic Publishers, while A Century at Chignecto (1928) was published by Ryerson.  Have you ever heard of a publisher putting ads for another publisher’s books on their rear cover?  Hunter-Rose Co. Ltd., in addition to being a publisher was a printer, and it may just be the case that Will Bird used Hunter-Rose solely as a printer and flogged copies himself.  All of the ads for the book in The Ypres Times state to write to Bird directly for copies, just as the rear cover does here for Bird’s previous books.

Furthermore, if one looks at the next three books Bird published: Thirteen Years After (1932), The Communication Trench (1933), and The Maid of the Marshes (1935), only Thirteen Years After, (a collection of magazine articles written for MacLean’s Magazine), has a publisher.  The Communication Trench was printed in Montreal by the Perrault Printing Company, but is listed as being “published by the author” in Amherst, Nova Scotia.  So too is The Maid of the Marshes. 

Thus I suspect And We Go On was self-published, and the line “without filth or favor” is Will Bird’s doing.

 

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