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1889 - Allan's Wife

Four more Allan Quatermain stories

McKay, Scott and Whatmore claim that ALLAN'S WIFE AND OTHER TALES was first published in London by Spencer Blackett, December 1889. There were 100 Large Paper Copies published, and an unknown number of trade first editions.

The following is excerpted from HRH's autobiography:


But [the] success [of THE WITCH'S HEAD] would not tempt my publishers to reissue it in a cheaper form, a venture that they thought too risky. I hawked the work about and eventually found some other publishers—who have long since ceased to publish—who agreed to bring it and “Dawn” out each in a two-shilling edition, and nobly promised me one-third of the profits. But in that generous agreement was a little clause that afterwards nearly proved my ruin. It bound me to allow this firm to republish any other novel I might write during the five following years, in the same form and on the same terms. To such a document as this in my ignorance—there was no Authors’ Society in those days—did I set my hand, with results that shall be told later.....The unfortunate agreement to which I have already alluded, entered into with the firm in which I believe Mr. Maxwell, the late husband of Miss Braddon, was a partner, had been abrogated without a lawsuit, through the admirable efforts of my friend and agent, Mr. A. P. Watt. But this was done at a price, and that price was that I should write them two stories, which in addition to my other and more serious work of course cost me time and labour. The tales that I wrote for them were called respectively "Mr. Meeson's Will" and "Allan's Wife." Ultimately, after various "business complications," in the course of which I lost some money that was due for royalties, together with "Dawn" and "The Witch's Head," they passed into the hands of Messrs. Longmans.


If A. P. Watt had not been successful, then 4 of HRH's most popular novels (KING SOLOMON'S MINES, SHE, JESS and ALLAN QUATERMAIN ) would have been published in a 2-shilling edition, and HRH would have lost a significant amount of money.

ALLAN'S WIFE AND OTHER TALES comprises the novella, ALLAN'S WIFE, and three short stories that previously appeared elsewhere:

  • HUNTER QUATERMAIN'S STORY

  • A TALE OF THREE LIONS

  • LONG ODDS

34 illustrations by Charles Kerr and Maurice Greiffenhagen are found in the Spencer Blackett edition.

The novel was first authorized to be published in book form in New York by Harper & Brothers in 1889, but without any illustrations.


I do not own any of the books pictured, unless noted.

Below: photos of MY copy of the Large Paper Edition, in original binding

Below: photos of another copy of the Large Paper Edition


Photos provided by David Frank

Below: 2 photos of nice copies of the Spencer Blackett British first edition

Spencer Blackett frontispiece and title-page

My copy of the Harpers first American edition

Title-page in my copy of the first American edition

My rebound 1903 SIGNED copy that HRH gifted to John Hays Hammond, part of a set of 23 volumes

Same frontispiece as the first British edition

Below: a German edition titled THE WIZARD/SORCERER IN ZULULAND from 1898, with 64 illustrations

Hodder & Stoughton British reprint with original DJ