"A DAZZLING FIRST NOVEL": IMPORTANT FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF THE FIRST NOVEL BY AUSTRALIAN PATRICK WHITE, AWARDED THE 1973 NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE FOR AN EPIC BODY OF WORK THAT "INTRODUCED A NEW CONTINENT INTO LITERATURE"
WHITE, Patrick. Happy Valley. New York: Viking, 1940. Octavo, original black cloth, original red paper title to spine and front board, original dust jacket. $5400.
First American edition of the award-winning first novel by White—"the first writer with Australian roots to be widely read abroad and the only Australian writer ever selected for the Nobel Prize"—issued by Viking's Ben Huebsch, famed publisher of Joyce and Lawrence, who became "the rock on which Patrick White's career was built," in original dust jacket.
White “won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Literature and international acclaim as a harsh but authentic voice of his homeland… he was the first writer with Australian roots to be widely read abroad and the only Australian writer ever selected for the Nobel Prize… The Swedish Academy, selecting White from a list that included Graham Greene, Vladimir Nabokov and Andre Malraux, called his work ‘an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature’” (New York Times). Awarded the prestigious Australian Literature Society gold medal in 1939, Happy Valley is “a dazzling first novel… the exhilarating performance of a great writer in the making” (Craven, Jackeroo Epic).
White, born in London while his Australian parents were abroad, was educated in Cambridge and wrote Happy Valley
in England in the late 1930s. Soon after its publication in London, he traveled to the U.S. seeking an American publisher. After several rejections he met Ben Huebsch of Viking, who accepted it for publication. Huebsch, publisher of Lawrence and Joyce, was described by White’s biographer David Marr as “the rock on which Patrick White's career was built” (Patrick White
, 127). Huebsch also accepted the manuscript for White’s next book, The Living and the Dead
(1941), earlier rejected by Harrup in London. With that, “Marr notes that an important pattern had been set for the next 15 years: 'immediate acceptance of White's work in New York and a struggle to find a publisher in London’. As Simon During argues, White's reputation was first established in New York, then in London, and eventually imported back to Australia” (Cambridge History of Australian Literature
, 250). "Printed in May 1940" on copyright page. Preceded by the 1939 first English edition. “White later rejected Happy Valley
as prentice work” and never allowed its republication in English in his lifetime (Australian Dictionary of Biography
Book fine; light edge-wear, mild toning to spine of extremely good dust jacket.