New York and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, (1975). Folio measuring 12 x 8 inches, original black paper boards with photographic portraits of Dinesen and Gatura on upper and lower board respectively, spine lettered in gilt, original unclipped pictorial dust jacket, tan endpapers. Inscribed by Peter Beard to “Dena and Bryan” in 1976 with original ink drawing on front endpapers; inscribed by Kamante Gatura to same recipients on half title. Dust jacket spine and portion of rear cover faded, light edgewear to jacket and binding.
First edition of this memoir of the plantation life described in Isak Dinesen’s 1937 Out of Africa, recounted by Dinesen’s Kikuyu cook, Kamante Gatura, who has inscribed this copy along with photographer Peter Beard, who contributes a whimsical sketch of a Kenyan watering hole. Renowned for his shots of African wildlife, Beard was first inspired to visit Kenya after reading Dinesen. He found Kamante living not far from the old plantation, eager to share his own memories of the people and events Dinesen had famously chronicled: “Over a period of twelve years, sometimes casually, sometimes scrupulously, and sometimes with grand propriety, as if divesting himself of his possessions, Kamante put down the extra dimensions of truth which are at the heart of Out of Africa.” Kamante’s sons translated his Swahili stories into English in the manuscripts reproduced here, along with Dinesen’s photographs of the Karen Coffee Farm, Beard’s own wildlife photographs, and Kamante’s original watercolors. This copy is inscribed by both Kamante Gatura and Peter Beard to Dena Dixon of the Block Hotel dynasty in Nairobi. The Block Hotels, the Norfolk and the Stanley, catered to Westerners on safari, and were frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Grace Kelly, and Clark Gable. Like Out of Africa and Longing for Darkness, the hotels served as a point of convergence and exchange between cultures; when literary figures visited, Dena Dixon would invite them to inscribe copies of their books. A very good copy of a moving book, scarce inscribed by both Kamante Gatura and Peter Beard.