Friday, November 13, 2015
Literary Obscurity: Kettleby by Erminois
Kettleby by Erminois
Well here's one for those who are into the byeways of literary obscurity. It is also a perfect case study in why 'rare' doesn't necessarily mean valuable.
It's unusual. Very unusual. Because it is unusual to come across a book published in the Twentieth Century (1935 in this case) which no one at all is selling already online. That's true as far as I can make out at the time of writing this. But much more than this, the Great God Google in its omniscience can't help either. Google can return just one relevant result: a pdf of a 1935 magazine which has this book in a list of books 'out this week'.
Erminois is clearly a pseudonym and it seems likely that might be related to heraldry in some way but no other book is listed in the British Library Catalogue under that name, although they do actually have a copy, and so do four other of the copyright libraries in the UK.
I have tried looking up the publisher. An advanced search of Abebooks for publishers called Mortiboy's provides a small list of titles, a number of which are natural history with the odd book of poetry and a different novel, all within the 1930s. It doesn't give an impression of a coherent publisher's list nor of a prolific publisher. This may be the main reason this book is so scarce. It is possible that although it doesn't display and of the signs of vanity publishing that someone paid to have it published and perhaps they could only afford a few? There are of course a million reasons why it might be so rare.
It looks like it had a rather good jacket too, the front panel of it is pasted onto the endpaper of this copy (below) and shows a rather graphic depiction of a Volcano. Of course, you are now wondering what this book is about. Well, I haven't read it! Helpfully though is has chapter headings which seem to indicate that the action takes place in the UK and then on the Hawaiian islands and then back in the UK again. The few brief passages I have read don't make me think the world has missed a masterpiece! Nonetheless, to be so absent from the Internet in these days of instant information IS unusual and, for the moment, this one has me stumped.