Arthur Ransome's first book for children was published by Jacks of London in 1916, and was a retelling of several folk tales from Russia, where he lived at the time. It was an instant success and has never been out of print.
Ransome secured the assistance of a highly talented local illustrator, Dimitri Mitrokhin, who produced several wonderful colour plates and many smaller woodcuts for the book. It is said that Ransome got these back to London in a diplomatic bag.
Here we have that very first edition, now extremely rare and valuable, with a simple but effective design for the boards and spine from Mitrokhin. The back panel contains one of his plates, depicting the witch Baba Yaga who figures in one of the most familiar tales, and the flaps carry some early reviews of the work, advertising material and a contemporary photograph of the author.
ReproJacket #1-A-1 Esprit, size 227.6x567mm.
The second edition of Arthur Ransome's Old Peter's Russian Tales was published with revisions and a new foreword in 1938 by Thomas Nelson, who had taken over the T C & E C Jack business in 1915. Here we have its striking scarlet jacket depicting the witch Baba Yaga.
ReproJacket #43-A-1, size 206.9x510mm.
A description of the 1926 internal Chinese political conflict, based on Ransome's experience there as a Manchester Guardian reporter. His time spent in China also came in useful later for Missee Lee.
ReproJacket #168-A-1, size 190.1x453mm.