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When We Were Very Young.
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When We Were Very Young.

Published: London: Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1924

Stock code: 102616

Price: £10,000

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This item is on exhibition - please contact us to arrange a viewing.

First trade edition, first impression. Inscribed by the author to Elliott Beach Macrae, who would become his publisher in the US in 1944 as head of E. P. Dutton. The inscription, written as a poem on the front free endpaper, reads: “Though Beach Macrae / Be bald or grey / Or Elliot Beach / Be a little of each / Whatever his age, I shall say / ‘Good luck to Elliot Beach Macrae’. Feb. 17th, 1931. A. A. Milne”. Elliott Beach Macrae (1900–?) had already proven himself in a succession of roles at E. P. Dutton when he became its third president, succeeding his father, who had himself succeeded the firm’s founder. When Milne wrote the inscription he had good reasons to thank Macrae Jr. and wish him luck as the success of When We Were Young in the US – 260,000 copies had been sold in the US by 1927 – owed a great deal to the “extraordinary enthusiasm of Macrae …, who was then sales manager and sent copies of the book to anyone he thought would talk about it” (Thwaite). In 1947, while on a visit at Cotchford, Macrae spotted the original soft toy incarnations of Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga and Eeyore looking rather worse for wear in Milne’s living room. Macrae then had the extraordinary idea to send the five toys on a tour of America. Milne accepted and produced hand-written “birth-certificates”; upon arrival in the US the five toys were insured for the considerable sum of $50,000. The tour was another big publicity success for Macrae and lasted several years, the five friends regularly coming to rest at the Dutton offices and finally settling down in a glass cabinet at the main branch of the New York Public Library. With Macrae’s ownership signature dated spring 1930 on the front free endpaper verso. A beautiful copy and a fine association with regard to the publishing history of the Pooh books. This copy is in the rare first state, without the page number on the contents page (p. ix).

Octavo. Original blue cloth, titles to spine and pictorial designs to boards gilt, top edge gilt. Housed in a mid twentieth-century blue cloth box. Illustrated throughout by E. H. Shepard. Extremities a little worn, sine faintly darkened, endpapers lightly tanned, a couple of middle hinges starting but still holding firm. An excellent copy in a rubbed and toned box fraying at edges.

Bibliography: Ann Thwaite, A. A. Milne. His Life, pp. 268; 474.

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