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LAWSON, CAPTAIN J.A. - Wanderings in New Guinea.

London, Chapman & Hall 1875. Octavo very good in a commercial red cloth prize binding decorated in gilt and black; tinted litho frontispiece and a folding map. A bright copy, interesting as an example of the school prize industry. This has a large colourful prize plate - dated 1883 - inside the front cover printed by the London Scholastic Co. who may well have been one of the companies that made their business buying up unsold sheets of books and preparing them for prizes. In this case the binding is attractive enough, if anodyne, and the edges, untrimmed when originally issued by the publishers, have been trimmed and gilded all round. ¶ Only edition. Like many of the best travel books, completely - from this distance ridiculously - imaginary, it sparked a fair few tight-lipped letters to the editor from both sides of the fact-fiction divide. Even Moresby, in the appendix to his book, printed a long and detailed letter to the Athenaeum refuting many claims made by Lawson. Given the furor it is surprising that not only did the book never reach a second edition but sheets were sold off as remainders. This may say something about embarrassment at Chapman and Hall. The authorship of this has occupied generations of bibliographers; it has been ascribed to Lieut. Robert Henry Armit - plausible until we consider the other books associated with Lawson - and Ingleton advanced the cause of Lieut. Dawson who accompanied Moresby to New Guinea and wrote this as an act of revenge, though how it's vengeful is not clear. Captain Lawson was the author of at least one more book - The Wandering Naturalists (1880) - where he also claimed authorship of Travel and Sport in Burmah which seems to be the book that appeared as written by John Bradley in 1876. The Library of Congress links the two authors, confidently gives Lawson the christian name John and suggests that Bradley is the pseudonym. Carrying on we find that Travel and Sport in Burmah has been attributed to James Anthony Lawson by Cushing and to Captain John A. Lawson by Kirk. Here is where I'm ready to give up.
AUD 300.00 [Appr.: EURO 187.75 US$ 213.03 | £UK 160.5 | JP¥ 23707] Book number 9291

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