London: Jonathan Cape, (1957). Single volume, measuring 7.25 x 5 inches: 255, . Original green textured boards lettered in silver, unclipped pictorial dust jacket printed in black, white, and lavender. Ink inscription from Nelson to James Robertson Justice on front free endpaper. Light spotting to jacket.
First edition of this cheerfully cynical novel of the English book trade, following the sale of a country-house library dominated by a ring of London dealers: “To think we could have bought the books for shillings and he has to go and chuck money away. It makes me spit blood. Why people can’t be friendly so that we can earn a bob or two, beats me.” Although Michael Nelson worked primarily as a journalist, he briefly ran a bookshop in Winchester after World War II; the dust jacket announces: “This is a novel based on fact -- the author has taken place in knock-outs.” This copy is inscribed by Nelson to the flamboyant British character actor James Robertson Justice in the year of publication: “from Michael Harrington Nelson / ex-ringer.” A very good association copy of a diverting book, scarce inscribed.