A first edition copy of The Gremlins, the 1943 book written by Roald Dahl, is coming up for auction on July 12, 2007 at PBA Galleries.
A Walt Disney Production published by Random House in 1943, The Gremlins first edition books do not surface for sale very often. There are currently five first edition books with dust jacket on the market, ranging in price from $6000 to $2200, none of which are in as nice a condition as the book being offered. The first edition book being auctioned is in Near Fine condition, with a Near Fine dust jacket.
The photographs being displayed on this page are from the actual book being auctioned.
The Gremlins Background
Roald Dahl served in the Royal Air Force as a fighter pilot and he became a Wing Commander. In 1940 Dahl’s plane was hit by a machine gun fire, and he was severely injured. He was rescued by a fellow pilot and took him six months to recover.
Dahl was sent to the U.S. as an air attache. while his outspoken style made him unpopular with his Air chiefs, it made him a favorite of the cocktail set. He was sent back to England, and is said to have been recruited by the British Secret Service by ‘Intrepid,’ aka William Stephenson, who was trying inspire sufficient public sympathy to enable Roosevelt to openly support Britain. Dahl was sent back to the U.S. with a promotion, much to the chagrin of the Air chiefs.
In 1943, Dahl wrote The Gremlins, a book for children about the hazards of being an RAF pilot. The Gremlins were little havoc causing creatures, behind any mishaps experienced by pilots and their machines. RAF insider jokes blamed The Gremlins for all the technical malfunctions in airplanes. Gremlin jokes were widely used by the RAF during the World War II and so got into popular culture as well..
From Disney Goes To War:
"Walt Disney planned to make a cartoon film version of The Gremlins. The film was never made, some say because of the difficult task of making loveable creatures who exist solely to destroy Allied airplanes. Disney actively tried to stop others from making Gremlin cartoons, however. "
Dahl’s presence in Washington came to the attention of Eleanor Roosevelt, who had been reading The Gremlins to her grandchildren. From Penguin Group Roald Dahl biography:
"Roald was never very keen on The Gremlins and didn’t really think of it as a children’s book. Nevertheless, it caught Eleanor Roosevelt’s eye and Roald became a not infrequent guest at the White House and FDR’s weekend retreat, Hyde Park. "
n 1953, Dahl married the actress Patricia Neal; two of his early children’s books, James and the Giant Peach (1961) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) grew out of the bedtime stories he made up for their children. Both books have become children’s classics, and turned into major motion pictures.
Elaine Moss, writing in the Times, called the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory "the funniest children’s book I have read in years; not just funny but shot through with a zany pathos which touches the young heart."
Roald Dahl was an author and screenwriter whose awards include: Edgar Allen Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1954, 1959, and 1980 for being a " master of the macabre and the suprise denouement"; Federation of Children’s Book Groups Award, 1983; Whitbread Award, 1983; and World Fantasy Convention Award, 1983. Dahl once said:
"“I’m probably more pleased with my children’s books than with my adult short stories. Children’s books are harder to write. It’s tougher to keep a child interested because a child doesn’t have the concentration of an adult. The child knows the television is in the next room. It’s tough to hold a child, but it’s a lovely thing to try to do."
First Edition Identification – Book
First Edition Identification – DJ
The key identifying point is the ‘$1.00’ price on the front DJ flap.