04 October 2010

Limited Time, Limited Editions (1/6)

Hetty Dorval
Ethel Wilson
Vancouver: The Alcuin Society, 1967

Typographer: Charles Morris/ Illustrator: Gus Rueter

"This is number 230 of an edition limited to 375 copies which was produced especially for members of the Alcuin Society."

Anyone looking for evidence of the neglect shown Ethel Wilson, British Columbia's greatest novelist, might want to consider the prices being asked for this unusual edition. An elegant production, with a five-page author's introduction that appears nowhere else, it can be bought online for as little as US$25. Twenty years ago, during those heady days of bookseller catalogues, I paid C$75 for this copy. At the time, I thought it was a fantastic bargain.

And it was.


  1. I'm a member of the Alcuin Society and I never knew about this book! Yet there is the Lytton-Lillooet Road, the skein of geese, and Mrs. Wilson's signature! I have several copies of HD but I think it's time for this edition! Thanks for alerting me (us).

    1. A pleasure. You've reminded me that I've again let my membership lapse. Of all the Alcuin Society books, I think this is the most beautiful. It's a sad commentary on the state of things that it can be had for so little. (But lucky for we with slim wallets.)

      The only other copy I own is the first edition, which I rescued in 1984 from an outdoor book cart in Montreal. Price: $1.

  2. My husband and I have a small letterpress imprint and so we are usually at the AS Wayzgoose (though have had to bow out this year) and other activities throughout the year. And yes, sad that such a beautiful book can be bought for (I ordered a copy) less than 20 dollars. I knew Charlie Morriss a little and his standards were very high. I look forward to my copy! I'm writing a novella which uses both Ethel Wilson and Sheila Watson as literary cartographers so I'll think of this as my touchstone as I'm working...