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Collecting Rare Books and First Editions: James A. Michener

Michener is best known for his first work of fiction Tales of the South Pacific, a collection on interconnected stories that won the Pulitzer Prize, and which was the basis for his play South Pacific: A Musical Play which also won the prize, and for the film South Pacific.

Published on 17 Feb. 2018

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By Tom Congalton


Michener is best known for his first work of fiction Tales of the South Pacific, a collection on interconnected stories that won the Pulitzer Prize, and which was the basis for his play South Pacific: A Musical Play which also won the prize, and for the film South Pacific. His second work of fiction The Fires of Spring has long been avidly sought after, and while the advent of the Internet has resulted in the greater availability of this title, it hasn't done much in the way of bringing fine copies to light. If you're a Michener fan and want to keep yourself busy look for his first two books, The Future of Social Studies, (1939) and The Unit in Social Studies, (1940), a textbook co-written with Harold M. Long. Both were published in wrappers. After these four books Michener's books are more common, but truly fine copies of his other early titles are very scarce. The Bridges of Toko-Ri (1953) comes with both blue and white endpapers, with informed speculation existing that the blue endpapers precede. It is also one of the few books from Random House which does not follow their usual practice of stating first edition. We once bought a large load of books that Michener had donated to his local library. We were grateful that for the most part, he remembered to stamp or sign his name in them.

The tip is published by permission of Between the Covers Rare Books, Inc. Thank you very much.

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