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The Rose and the Yew Tree (1948) – Mary Westmacott | First Edition Identification Guide

Mary Westmacott - Rose and the Yew Tree UK
Rose and the Yew Tree UK

The Rose and the Yew Tree is a tragedy novel written by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by William Heinemann Ltd in November 1948 and in the US by Farrar & Rinehart later in the same year. It is the fourth of six novels Christie published under the pen name Mary Westmacott. The UK edition sold for eight shillings and sixpence (8/6) and the US edition at $2.50.

The title of the novel is taken from Section V of Little Gidding from T. S. Eliot‘s Four Quartets. The full line, as quoted in the epigraph to the novel, is:

“The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree

Are of equal duration”.

Plot Summary


Hugh Norreys, crippled in a road accident, watches from his couch as John Gabriel runs for parliament in the small Cornish town of St. Loo. Hugh’s invalid status seems to encourage his visitors to reveal their secrets and emotions. Hugh is mystified by Gabriel, an ugly little man who, nevertheless, is attractive to women. He is also intrigued by Isabella, a beautiful young woman from the castle down the road. So, Hugh and most of St. Loo are shocked when, shortly after Gabriel wins the election, he and Isabella run away together and Gabriel resigns as a member of parliament.
The novel explores love, caring for others, redemption, and a gothic tragedy of one woman and the men who love her.

Publication history

  • 1948, William Heinemann Ltd (London), November 1948, Hardback, 224 pp
  • 1948, Farrar & Rinehart (New York), 1948, Hardback, 249 pp
  • 1964, Dell Books, Paperback, 189 pp
  • 1971, Arbor House, Hardback, 249 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, carried in the December 1947 and January 1948 issues.

The Rose and the Yew Tree – 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
1948The Rose and the Yew TreeWilliam Heinemann, London, [1948]First edition. "First Published 1948" stated on the copyright page. Written under the Mary Westmacott pseudonym. Price 8/6.
1948The Rose and the Yew TreeFarrar & Rinehart, NY, [1948]First American edition. Copyright dated 1948 on cc. No statement of later printings. Gray cloth lettered in silver. Written under the Mary Westmacott pseudonym. 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.

The Rose and the Yew Tree – First Edition Dust Jacket Identification Guide

First edition bindings and various dust jacket printings identification.


BOOKSTORE: Rare, Antiquarian, First editions, Illustrated Children's Books

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