Book Collecting

Kurt Vonnegut – First Edition Books: Identification Guide

Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007) was an American writer. In a career spanning over 50 years, he published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five nonfiction works, with further collections being published after his death.

Vonnegut published his first novel, Player Piano, in 1952. The novel was reviewed positively but was not commercially successful at the time. In the nearly 20 years that followed, he published several novels that were well regarded, two of which (The Sirens of Titan [1959] and Cat’s Cradle [1963]) were nominated for the Hugo Award for best novel. His breakthrough was his commercially and critically successful sixth novel, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969). The book’s anti-war sentiment resonated with its readers amidst the ongoing Vietnam War and its reviews were generally positive. After its release, Slaughterhouse-Five went to the top of The New York Times Best Seller list, thrusting Vonnegut into fame. He was invited to give speeches, lectures, and commencement addresses around the country, and received many awards and honors.

Vonnegut’s works have evoked ire on several occasions. His most prominent novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, has been objected to or removed at various institutions in at least 18 instances. In the case of Island Trees School District v. Pico, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a school district’s ban on Slaughterhouse-Five—which the board had called “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy”—and eight other novels was unconstitutional. When a school board in Republic, Missouri decided to withdraw Vonnegut’s novel from its libraries, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library offered a free copy to all the students of the district.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted Vonnegut posthumously in 2015.

The asteroid 25399 Vonnegut is named in his honor. A crater on the planet Mercury has also been named in his honor.

Kurt Vonnegut – First Editions Identification Guide

Note: This list only includes works published prior to 1977.

How to Identify First Edition books by Kurt Vonnegut Guide.
YearTitlePublisherFirst edition/printing identification points
1972BETWEEN TIME AND TIMBUKTU[New York]: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence. [1972]Boards with cloth shelf back. First printing-1972 on © page.
1975BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS OR GOODBYE, BLUE MONDAY[New York]: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence. [1975]First printing-1973 on © page.
1961CANARY IN A CAT HOUSEGreenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Publications, Inc., [1961]Wrappers. First printing September 1961 on © page. Gold Medal Booksi 153 (35¢).
Note: All but one of the stories in this collection, "Hal Irwin's Magic Lamp," later collected in WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE.
1963CAT'S CRADLENew York Chicago San Francisco: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, [1963]First edition so stated on © page.
1965GOD BLESS YOU, MR. ROSEWATERNew York Chicago San Francisco: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, [1965]Boards with cloth shelf back. First edition so stated on © page.
1971HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNENew York: Delacorte Press, [1971]First printing so stated on © page.
ALSO: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WANDA JUNE: A PLAY IN THREE ACTS. New York Hollywood London Toronto: Samuel French, Inc., [1974]. Wrappers. No statement of printing on © page. Drops author's note "About This Play."
1962MOTHER NIGHTGreenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Publications, Inc., [1962]Wrappers. First printing February 1962 on © page. Gold Medal s1191 (35¢).
ALSO: New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, [1966]. Boards with cloth shelf back. First edition so stated on © page. First hardcover edition. Adds introduction by Vonnegut.
1952PLAYER PIANONew York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952Boards. First printing has Scribner seal and A on © page. Reissued as UTOPIA 14.
1959THE SIRENS OF TITAN[New York]: A Dell First Edition, [1959]Wrappers. First printing -- October, 1959 on © page. Dell First Edition B138 (35¢).
ALSO: Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1961. First printing so stated on © page. First hardcover edition.
1976SLAPSTICK OR LONESOME NO MORE![New York]: Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, [1976]Two printings, priority as listed:
  • (A) Delacorte Press imprint as above. First Delacorte printing on © page. Two issues, priority as listed: (1) Trade issue. Issued in dust jacket; not slipcased. (2) 250 copies with numbered leaf signed by the author inserted. Issued in paper slipcase; no dust jacket.
  • (B) Franklin Library. Franklin Center, Pennsylvania: The Franklin Library, 1976. Full leather. This limited first edition/has been published/by special arrangement with Delacorte Press Seymour Lawrence on © page. Adds "A special message to the members of The First Edition Society by Vonnegut."
Note: Delacorte Press and Franklin Library settings differ. Delacorte trade issue was released a month prior to the limited issue and the Franklin Library edition.
1969SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE[New York]: A Seymour Lawrence Book/Delacorte Press, [1969]First printing so stated on © page.
1954UTOPIA 14New York: Bantam Books, [1954]Wrappers. 1st Printing ... October, 1954 on © page. A Bantam Giant A 1262 (35¢). Reissue of PLAYER PIANO.
1968WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE[New York]: A Seymour Lawrence Book Delacorte Press, [1968]Boards with cloth shelf back. First Delacorte printing on © page.

Kurt Vonnegut – First Printing Dust Jacket Identification Points

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

Reference:

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

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