Book Collecting

Absent in the Spring (1944) – Mary Westmacott | First Edition Identification Guide

Mary Westmacott - Absent in the Spring 1944 UK
Absent in the Spring 1944 UK

Absent in the Spring is a novel written by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by Collins in August 1944 and in the US by Farrar & Rinehart later in the same year. It was the third of six novels Christie wrote under the pen name Mary Westmacott. The UK edition sold for eight shillings and sixpence (7/6) and the US edition at $2.50.

The title is a quotation from William Shakespeare’s sonnet 98: “From you have I been absent in the spring,…”

Publication history

  • 1944, William Collins & Sons (London), August 1944, Hardcover, 160 pp
  • 1944, Farrar & Rinehart (New York), 1944, Hardcover, 250 pp
  • 1967, Dell Books, Paperback, 192 pp 1971, Arbor House, Hardback, 250 pp
  • 1974, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 192 pp

The novel was first serialised in the US in Good Housekeeping in two abridged instalments from July to August 1944.

Absent in the Spring – First Edition Book Identification Guide

The books are listed in the order of publication. While the majority of Agatha Christie’s books were first published in the UK. There are many titles that were first published in the US. The title of the book may differs from the UK edition in some cases.

YearTitlePublisherFirst edition/printing identification points
1944Absent in the SpringWilliam Collins & Sons, London, [1944]First edition. "1942" on single line stated on the copyright page. No statement of later printings. Gray cloth lettered in black. Written under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. Price 7/6.
1944Absent in the SpringFarrar & Rinehart, NY, 1944First American edition. "Copyright, 1944" stated on the copyright page. No statement of later printings. Tan cloth lettered in gold. Price $ 2.50.

Note about Book Club Editions (BCE) and reprints:

UK: You can see statements of later reprint dates or of book club on the copyright page.

US: The US reprint publishers usually use the same sheets as the first edition and are harder to identify by looking at the title page or the copyright page. One may identify a BCE by looking at the DJ, which doesn’t have a price on top of the front flap and a “Book Club Edition” imprint at the bottom. If the dust jacked is clipped at both the top/bottom of the front flap. You can safely assume it’s a BCE . If the book is missing the dust jacket. Later BCE editions can be identified by its plain boards, while first printings are issued in quarter cloth.

Please refer to the gallery for detailed images of true first edition bindings and dust jackets.

Absent in the Spring – First Edition Dust Jacket Identification Guide

First edition bindings and various dust jacket printings identification.


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