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Campion obtains GK Chesterton original signed books

18 Oct, 2021

Copies of GK Chesterton-signed books in the Campion Library.

Keziah Van Aardt
College Librarian

There is something elusively compelling about a book that is signed by its author. A handwritten signature is a very individual, personal touch on a printed book and seems to somehow bring to life the woman or man who wrote it. Among my treasured possessions is a book of verse written and signed by the poet, Les Murray. Holding this volume in my hand I am reminded of the time I spent at an event listening to the Australian legend read his poetry. Seeing his handwriting on the title page of my book is a lovely reminder of this time and helps me connect the man with his writing in a very tangible way.

Recently, Campion’s Library was fortunate to acquire two books by G. K. Chesterton, both of which have been signed by him. Magic: A Fantastic Comedy, was written in 1913 and is a play in three acts, one of Chesterton’s first dramatic works. It is delightful to think that the author held the blue boards of this book and turned the pages himself to write his distinctive signature across the paper.

The second book is The Sword of Wood, a short story written in 1928. This Elkin Mathews & Marrot edition was the only publication of Chesterton’s short story in book form – a mere 530 copies were made.

Not only is this a rare work, but the craftsmanship of the book is beautiful – the pages are made of rag paper, the type is set by hand, and the endpapers are decorated with a curlicue design. Chesterton’s signature on the verso of the title page adds an extra element of curiosity to this lovely little volume.

The Library is privileged to own these two works as they provide examples of Chesterton’s early writing and demonstrate his ability to turn his hand to different genres and styles of writing. The fact they are both signed by their author is a special feature that brings Chesterton to life; not just as an author, but as a man full of imagination and life.