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Frank Herbert– First Edition Books: Identification Guide

Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert

Franklin Patrick Herbert Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was an American science fiction author best known for the 1965 novel Dune and its five sequels. Though he became famous for his novels, he also wrote short stories and worked as a newspaper journalist, photographer, book reviewer, ecological consultant, and lecturer.

Herbert’s early life was shaped by the Great Depression, which had a profound impact on his worldview. Growing up in poverty, he developed a strong sense of social justice and a fascination with politics and power dynamics. These influences would later find expression in his writing.

After serving in World War II, Herbert pursued a career in journalism, working for various newspapers and magazines. This experience honed his writing skills and deepened his understanding of the intricacies of human nature. It also provided him with valuable insights into politics and the workings of society, which would become central themes in his novels.

Herbert’s first published novel, “The Dragon in the Sea” (1956), explored the psychological and political aspects of submarine warfare. However, it was his epic science fiction novel “Dune,” published in 1965, that catapulted him to international acclaim. The Dune saga, set in the distant future, and taking place over millennia, explores complex themes, such as the long-term survival of the human species, human evolution, planetary science and ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, economics and power in a future where humanity has long since developed interstellar travel and settled many thousands of worlds. It follows the story of Paul Atreides as he navigates the treacherous world of Arrakis, a desert planet rich in a valuable resource known as spice. “Dune” won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1966 and went on to become one of the best-selling science fiction novels of all time.

Frank Herbert began researching Dune in 1959. He was able to devote himself wholeheartedly to his writing career because his wife returned to work full-time as an advertising writer for department stores, becoming the breadwinner during the 1960s, where the novel Dune was published in 1965, which spearheaded the Dune franchise.

Dune took six years of research and writing to complete and it was much longer than commercial science fiction of the time was supposed to be. Analog Magazine (the renamed Astounding, still edited by John W. Campbell) published it in two parts comprising eight installments, “Dune World” from December 1963 and “Prophet of Dune” in 1965. It was then rejected by nearly twenty book publishers. One editor prophetically wrote, “I might be making the mistake of the decade, but …”.

Sterling E. Lanier, an editor of Chilton Book Company (known mainly for its auto-repair manuals) had read the Dune serials and offered a $7,500 advance plus future royalties for the rights to publish them as a hardcover book. Herbert rewrote much of his text. Dune was soon a critical success. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965 and shared the Hugo Award in 1966 with …And Call Me Conrad by Roger Zelazny. Dune was the first major ecological science fiction novel, embracing a multitude of sweeping, interrelated themes and multiple character viewpoints, a method that ran through all Herbert’s mature work.

In a 1973 interview, Herbert stated that he had been reading science fiction “about ten years” before he began writing in the genre, and he listed his favorite authors as H. G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson and Jack Vance.

The success of “Dune” led Herbert to expand the story into a series of sequels, collectively known as the Dune series. This sprawling saga, consisting of six novels, delved deeper into the intricate political and religious tapestry of the “Dune” universe. The series examined themes such as environmentalism, messianic narratives, and the cyclical nature of history. Herbert’s meticulous world-building, rich character development, and philosophical explorations captivated readers and cemented his status as a visionary author.

Dune and the Dune saga constitute one of the world’s best-selling science fiction series and novels; and is frequently considered one of the best science fiction novels ever, if not the best. Locus subscribers voted it the all-time best SF novel in 1975, again in 1987, and the best “before 1990” in 1998.

Tragically, Frank Herbert passed away on February 11, 1986, at the age of 65. However, his influence on the science fiction genre and his enduring legacy continue to thrive. The Dune series, in particular, has had a profound impact on popular culture, with film adaptations, video games, and a dedicated fan base keeping Herbert’s vision alive.

Frank Herbert’s literary contributions expanded the boundaries of science fiction and challenged readers to engage with profound philosophical questions. His ability to create immersive worlds, complex characters, and thought-provoking narratives solidified his place as one of the most significant and influential science fiction authors of the 20th century. His works continue to captivate readers and inspire new generations of writers, ensuring that his legacy will endure for years to come.

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Frank Herbert in 2006.

Frank Herbert – First Edition Identification Guide

Note: This list only includes works published prior to 1984.

How to Identify First Edition books by Frank Herbet Guide
YearTitlePublisherFirst edition/Printing Identification Points
1975THE BEST OF FRANK HERBERTLondon: Sidgwick & Jackson, [1975]Boards. First published in Great Britain in 1975 on © page.
Note: In 1976 this collection was divided into two paperback volumes and issued THE BEST OF FRANK HERBERT 1952-1964 and THE BEST OF FRANK HERBERT 1965-1970.
1973THE BOOK OF FRANK HERBERTNew York: DAW Books, Inc., [1973}Wrappers. First printing, January 1973 on © page. DAW: sf Books No. 39 UQ 1039 (95c).
1984CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNENew York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. [1984]Boards. Line number "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10" on © page. Dust Jacket price $17.95.
1976CHILDREN OF DUNENew York: Published by Berkley Publishing Corporation, [1976]No statement of printing on © page.
1966DESTINATION: VOID[New York]: Published by Berkley Publishing Corporation, [1966]Wrappers. June, 1966 on © page. Berkley Medallion F1249 (50c).
1977THE DOSADI EXPERIMENTNew York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, [1977]No statement of printing on © page.
1956THE DRAGON IN THE SEAGarden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1956Boards. First edition so stated on © page. Reissued as 21ST CENTURY SUB and later as UNDER PRESSURE.
1965DUNEPhiladelphia/New York: Chilton Books a division of Chilton Company, [1965]Blue boards with white letterings. © page of the first printing of the first edition reads: Copyright © 1965 by Frank Herbert. First Edition/All Rights Reserved/Published in Philadelphia by Chilton Company and simultaneously/in Toronto, Canada, by Ambassador Books, Ltd./Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 65-22547/Manufactured in the United States of America. NO ISBN.
First state Dust Jacket price of $5.95, bottom rear flap has "CHILTON BOOKS/A DIVISION OF CHILTON COMPANY"
1969DUNE MESSIAHNew York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, [1969]Boards. No statement of printing on © page. Dust Jacket price $4.95.
ALSO: [New York]: Published by Berkley Publishing Corporation, [1975]. Wrappers,. September, 1975 on © page.A Berkley Medallion Book D2952 ($1.50). Minor textual changes.
1966THE EYES OF HEISENBERG[New York]: Published by Berkley Publishing Corporation, [1966]Wrappers. November, 1966 on © page. Berkley Medallion F1283 (50c).
ALSO: [London]: New English Library, [1975]. Boards. First published in hardcover. 1975 on © page. First hardcover edition.
1981GOD EMPEROR OF DUNENew York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. [1981]Boards. Two printings, no priority:
  • (A) Limited edition of 750 copies signed by Frank Herbert, issued without a Dust Jacket in a slipcase;
  • (B) Trade edition. No statement of printing on © page. Dust Jacket price $12.95.
ALSO: London, Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1981.
1972THE GOD MAKERSNew York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. [1972]Boards. No statement of printing on © page.
1966THE GREEN BRAINNew York: Ace Books, Inc., [1966]Wrappers. No statement of printing on © page. Ace Book F-379 (40c).
1968THE HEAVEN MAKERS[New York]: An Avon Book, [1968]Wrappers. First Avon Printing, November, 1968 on © page. An Avon Original 5379 (60c).
ALSO: New York: Ballantine Books, [1977]. Wrappers. First Ballantine Books Edition: March 1977 on © page. Ballantine 25304 ($1.50). Textual revisions.
1973HELLSTROM'S HIVEGarden City: Nelson Doubleday, Inc., [1973]Boards. Three printings, priority as listed: (A) Code 42P at base of page 277; (B) Code 12Q at base of page 277; (C) Code 290 at base of page 277. No statement of printing on © page. Note: Issued by the Science Fiction Book Club.
1984HERETICS OF DUNENew York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. [1984]Boards. No statement of printing on © page. Dust Jacket price $16.95.
1968THE SANTAROGA BARRIER[New York]: Published by Berkley Publishing Corporation, [1968]Wrappers. October, 1968 On © page. A Berkley Medallion Book S1615 (75c).
ALSO: [London]: Rapp + Whiting, [1970]. Boards. First Published in Great Britain in 1970 on © page. First hardcover edition.
1972SOUL CATCHERNew York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, [1972]No statement of printing on © page.
195621ST CENTURY SUBNew York: Avon Publications, Inc., [1956]Wrappers. No statement of printing on © page. Avon T-146 (35c). Reissue of THE DRAGON UN THE SEA.
1974UNDER PRESSURENew York: Ballantine Books , [1974]Wrappers. First Printing: March, 1'974 On © page. Ballantine Books 23835 Science Fiction ($1.25). Reissue of THE DRAGON IN THE SEA.
1970WHIPPING STARNew York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, [1970]Boards. No statement of printing on © page.
ALSO: [New York]: Published by Berkley Publishing Corporation, [1977]. Wrappers. September, 1977/Sixth Printing on © page. A Berkley Medallion Book 0-425-03504-2 ($1.5c). Revised text.
1970THE WORLDS OF FRANK HERBERT[London]: New English Library, [1970]Wrappers. First NEL paperback edition December 1970 on © page. New English Library Science Fiction 2814 (30p).
ALSO: New York: Ace Books, [1971]. Wrappers. No statement of printing on © page. Ace Book 90925 (75c). Adds "By the Book."

Frank Herbert – First Printing Dust Jacket Identification Points

Gallery of First state Dust Jackets of Herbert’s works. Only includes the first appearance in book form. Either the UK or US edition and does not include later printings.


  • Wikipedia
  • L. W. Currey, Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of Their Fiction and Selected Nonfiction.

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