Book Collecting

The Witness for the Prosecution (1948) – Agatha Christie | First Edition Identification Guide

Agatha Christie - Witness For The Prosecution 1948 US
Witness For The Prosecution 1948 US

The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories is a short story collection written by Agatha Christie and first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1948. The first edition retailed at $2.50. The story “The Second Gong” features Hercule Poirot, the only character in the stories who appears in any other of Christie’s works.

Each story has also appeared in either of the UK collections The Hound of Death, The Listerdale Mystery or Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories and therefore this collection was not published in the UK. Some of the stories are fantasy fiction rather than mysteries.

List of stories:

  • “Accident”
  • “The Fourth Man”
  • “The Mystery of the Blue Jar”
  • “The Mystery of the Spanish Shawl” (a.k.a. “Mr. Eastwood’s Adventure”)
  • “Philomel Cottage”
  • “The Red Signal”
  • “The Second Gong”
  • “Sing a Song of Sixpence”
  • “S.O.S.”
  • “Where There’s a Will” (a.k.a. “Wireless”)
  • “The Witness for the Prosecution”

Publication history

  • 1948, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), Hardcover, 272 pp
  • 1956, Dell Books, Paperback, (Dell number 855), 192 pp

First publication of stories in the US

The first US magazine publication of all the stories has not been fully documented. A partial listing is as follows:

  • “The Mystery of the Blue Jar”: a 1924 issue of Metropolitan Magazine.
  • “The Witness for the Prosecution”: 31 January 1925 issue of Flynn’s Weekly (Volume IV, No 2) under the title Traitor’s Hands with an uncredited illustration.
  • “Where There’s a Will”: 1 March 1926 issue of Mystery Magazine under the title “Wireless”.
  • “The Second Gong”: June 1932 (Volume LIIX, Number 6) issue of the Ladies Home Journal with an illustration by R.J. Prohaska.

In addition, the following were published unillustrated in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine:

  • “Accident”: March 1943 (Volume 4, Number 2)
  • “Sing a Song of Sixpence”: February 1947 (Volume 9, Number 39)
  • “The Mystery of the Spanish Shawl”: April 1947 (Volume 9, Number 41)
  • “The Red Signal”: June 1947 (Volume 9, Number 43)
  • “The Fourth Man”: October 1947 (Volume 10, Number 47)
  • “S.O.S.”: December 1947 (Volume 10, Number 49)

For first publications in the UK, see the applicable UK collections referenced above.

The Witness for the Prosecution – 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 Witness for the Prosecution Dodd, Mead & Co, NY, 1948First edition. Date on the title & copyright page matches. No statement of later printings. Gray cloth lettered in red. 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 Witness for the Prosecution – 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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