New Arrivals: First UK Edition of THINGS FALL APART (1958), by Chinua Achebe. Signed by the author on the title page.
The Nigerian author’s highly-regarded first book, and a cornerstone title in the African literary canon. Achebe’s novel narrowly escaped being thrown out and forgotten altogether, thanks to a fortunate series of events. The author sent the only copy of his work, a hand-written manuscript, to a typing service in the UK, as he knew a well-typed document would make a more favorable impression on potential publishers. The typing service, having received the manuscript, dismissed it as a joke, and it sat in the office untyped for months. It would have languished there were it not for the efforts of Achebe’s boss, Angela Beattie, who showed up at the typing agency on a trip to England and demanded the follow through with their service. The novel was sent the typescript to William Heinemann, who, after seeking the advice of professor Donald Macrae, was heralded it as ‘the best first novel since the War.’ Initially published with a print run of just 2,000 copies, the novel has since sold more than 8 million copies world-wide, and has never been out print. While copies of the American first will turn up, copies of the Heinemann edition are notably scarce - signed copies especially so - and this is among the best examples we have seen.