First edition, first printing. Inscribed by the author. Original yellow cloth with gilt titles to spine, in dustwrapper. A near fine copy, the cloth bright, the contents clean. Complete with the very good, mildly scuffed, dustwrapper, which is rubbed and nicked along the top edge with a half-centimetre patch of loss at the top of the front panel. The spine is moderately faded, though the text remains clear. Not price-clipped (15s net to the front flap). A superb association copy.
Inscribed by the author in blue ink to the title page: "Inscribed for Patrick / with gratitude / from his / old ham chum / Seán ó betjeménn / 1966." The dedicatee is theatre, television and film director, Patrick Garland (1935-2013). Betjeman's daughter, Candida Lycett Green, has written of how the Garland and Betjeman families had connections going back a long way. Garland's grandmother was a great friend of the poet's mother, Bess, while his (Garland's) father "had been asked discreetly to take JB to Paris, in the early twenties, 'to teach me about sex with ladies', JB later wrote to A. L. Rowse, 'but it failed, because I fell ill''' ('Letters', Vol. 2, p. 357, notes). Betjeman conducted his correspondence with both Garland and the director's parents in mock 'franglais', an example of which is included by Lycett Green in her edition of the letters (Vol. 2, pp. 356-7). In the summer of 1963, Garland filmed Betjeman for the BBC 'Monitor' film,"Down Cemetery Road", ostensibly a portrait of Philip Larkin, and filmed on location in Hull. Bevis Hillier, in his biography of the poet, writes that Betjeman "rather took command. In a Hull graveyard, he harangued [Larkin] about the social classes of those buried there, where they might have lived, and what he himself felt about death [...]." Larkin later wrote to Garland, "suggesting that he re-title the film 'To Hull with John Betjeman'' ('John Betjeman: The Biography', pp. 420-1). In a long theatrical and television career, Garland worked with (among many others) Samuel Beckett and Alan Bennett, and with just about every great post-war actor, including Eileen Atkins, Alan Bates, Simon Callow, John Hurt, Ian McKellen, Laurence Olivier. He also, with Ted Hughes and Charles Osborne, founded the (still running) 'Poetry International' festival at the Southbank Centre in London. 'High and Low' was first published on 1st November 1966; 16,100 copies of the first impression printed, which sold quickly (a second impression was needed later the same month). (Peterson A35).
Stock code: 19563
London: John Murray