"FOR THE GREAT GRACIE WITH LOVE"
BETJEMAN, John. Continual Dew. A Little Book of Bourgeois Verse. London: John Murray, (1977). Thin octavo, original black cloth gilt, original dust jacket. $750.
Facsimile edition of Betjeman's second book of poetry, inscribed by him to English actress and singer Gracie Fields, "For the great Gracie with love from John Betjeman. White City 1977." Additionally inscribed by the publisher, "from an old and deep admirer, John Murray," and English broadcaster Michael Parkinson, "To a great superstar, with love and admiration, Michael Parkinson."
"Once again the title of the new collection had strong ecclesiastical overtones; it was borrowed from the 'Prayer for the Clergy and People' in the Morning Prayer service of the Book of Common Prayer; 'Send down upon our Bishops and Curates, and all Congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing.' the title was a portent of the future, for many of Betjeman's later titles had a churchy quality. Some of the the other titles that he and [publisher] Jock Murray considered for Continual Dew were The Holy Table, The Almsbox, The Offertory, Eccentric Incumbents, Gaslit Evensong, Sung Eucharist, Harvest Festival and Incumbent's Offering. It should be observed that the front cover of Continual Dew is blocked to imitate the clasps of an old-fashioned Prayer Book or Bible" (Peterson A5.a). This facsimile edition, issued 40 years after the first edition, is a very close rendering of the original. With numerous illustrations throughout. Peterson A5.b. The recipient of this copy, Gracie Fields, was an English actress and singer and star of both stage and screen, made a Dame of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II six months before Fields' death in 1979. Fields and Betjeman appeared together on Michael Parkinson's talk show in 1977; as the White City is where many of BBC's studios are located in London, that is likely when this volume was inscribed.With publisher's bookplate advertising this volume laid in.