Book Collecting

Unfinished Portrait (1934) – Mary Westmacott | First Edition Identification Guide

Mary Westmacott - Unfinished Portrait 1934 UK
Mary Westmacott – Unfinished Portrait 1934 UK

Unfinished Portrait is a semi-autobiographical novel written by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by Collins in March 1934 and in the US by Doubleday later in the same year. The British edition retailed for seven shillings and sixpence (7/6) and the US edition at $2.00. It is the second of six novels Christie wrote under the pen name Mary Westmacott.

Plot Summary

[SPOILER ALERT]

In the midst of divorce, bereft of the only people in her life she cares for, Celia considers taking her life. But, while on an exotic island, Celia meets Larraby, a successful portrait painter, who spends a night talking with her, and learning her deepest fears. Larraby leaves Celia with the hope that he may be the one to help her come to terms with her past.

Publication history

  • 1934, William Collins & Sons (London), March 1934, Hardcover, 320 pp
  • 1934, Doubleday (New York), 1934, Hardcover, 323 pp
  • 1964, Dell Books (New York), Paperback, 284 pp
  • 1972, Arbor House (New York), Hardcover, 284 pp
  • 1986, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, ISBN 0-00-617373-X

The first editions in both the UK and US used the same dustjacket illustration by Hookway Cowles. The only other occurrences of this happening for Christie’s publications were for The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) and Star Over Bethlehem and other stories (1965).

Unfinished Portrait – 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
1934Unfinished PortraitWilliam Collins & Sons, London, [1934]First edition. "Copyright, 1934" stated on the copyright page. No statement of later printings Blue cloth cloth lettered in gold. Written under the Mary Westmacott pseudonym. Price 7/6.
1934Unfinished PortraitDodd, Mead & Co, NY, MCMXXXIVFirst American edition. "First edition" stated on the copyright page. Blue cloth lettered in black. Written under the Mary Westmacott pseudonym. Price $ 2.00.

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.

Unfinished Portrait – First Edition Dust Jacket Identification Guide

First edition bindings and various dust jacket printings identification.

Reference:

  • Wikipedia

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

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