In recognition of the completion of the inaugural year of this fan blog, it is with great pleasure that I present this latest post on my passion for collecting Ouidiana. I have several life goals with respect to my dreams of revitalizing a readership for the author in the twenty-first century. I am currently working on a specialized descriptive bibliography of her works. In time, I hope one day to help establish a literary association devoted to the preservation of her legacy. Paramount among my goals, however, is to build a sizable transnational Ouida library with an emphasis on the Lippincott editions.
I began collecting almost four years ago having only the humble means of a graduate student at my disposal. I am continuing in this noble endeavor with the limited income of a postdoc who now finds himself a husband and a new father. Consequently, although my ability to acquire the most sought after editions is very much inhibited by my familial responsibilities, I am fortunate that antiquarian editions of Ouida’s novels are relatively inexpensive. I am confident, then, that with steady patience and a keen eye for the market, over the course of a lifetime I will be able to amass a notable collection worthy of the author’s name.
Ouida, let us recall, always intended for the world to judge her by her published works rather than her personal writings and correspondence. With that mandate in mind, my collecting will continue along the lines of acquiring published editions of her works at the expense of any manuscript materials that might surface in the market in the future. Of course, I have allowed for at least one exception to this guideline. My most prized possession in my collection is an illustrated Lippincott edition of Under Two Flags that has a letter from the author addressed to the North American Review tipped-in on the front cover end papers. My most recent acquisition is what I believe to be a Lippincott first edition of Signa signed by Becky London, the daughter of Jack London. What makes this copy truly special is that Jack London once remarked that this novel had a powerful influence on him in his youth. Some of the other bibliographic gems in my collection include a near complete set of the illustrated collected works from P. F. Collier (a set that no serious collector of Ouida should go without) and a growing collection of Lippincott single volume first editions with such titles as Idalia, Folle-Farine, Ariadne, and Pascarel. The Collier editions, the most common of the lot, include some truly charming illustrations in them. The Lippincott editions, my personal favorites, quite often feature decorated cloth, hardcover bindings that have a distinctly American appeal to them. I also possess a Fenno & Co. American first edition of The Massarenes which is appropriate, I think, considering the novel’s close ties to our nation.
Featured among my international editions are a Tauchnitz edition of Syrlin, a yellowback issue of Pipistrello from Chatto & Windus, and two nice-looking Japanese editions of A Dog of Flanders. My first edition of Ouida’s Critical Studies is also very close to my heart because it offers an attractively printed volume of the author’s journalism, criticism, and essay writing.
When it comes to my love for Ouidiana, I am not above collecting in ephemera as well. As early as 2013, I was compelled to purchase a cigarette card featuring a photographic print of the author from the Ogden’s Guinea Gold series. A massive amount of memorabilia for A Dog of Flanders has been produced over the years, mainly due to the story’s popularity in Japan. So far, I’ve collected an animation still and figurine from Nippon animation’s 1997 animated film version of the story, and a movie poster from the 1959 American film adaptation of this book from the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation is securely framed and hanging on my dining room wall. Moreover, I have gone so far as to design a line of custom apparel made up of five Ouida-themed t-shirts. In all, nothing in this world can temper this “gentle madness” for collecting all things related to my favorite author, and I am neither ashamed nor regretful of that fact.