06 August, 2015

The Beggar Maid

BY Alice Munro
Book Information1/1/0/US/AF/1979/o.less than 4,000 sold  •  220x155x23  •  417  •  Nobel'13  •  Booker'80(F)

"The Beggar Maid", the US version of "Who Do You Think You Are", was published by Alfred Knopf on September 29, 1979. Initially contracted to Norton, Munro's agent, Virginia Barber, withdrew the book from Norton upon learning that its advocating editor was leaving the publisher, and offered it to Bob Gottlieb, then head editor at Alfred Knopf, who seized the opportunity. The US edition was set in larger typeface, and Munro made changes to some of the stories, including a different ending to "Providence". Edward Burne Jones' "King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid" was chosen as the jacket design, giving the book a medieval feel.

Ann Close, the new Knopf editor working with Munro, wrote to Munro to explain that her preference for "The Beggar Maid" as the US title was premised on the difference between two national markets. Enclosed with the letter was a copy of The Stories of John Cheever, who, like Munro, was a Knopf and New Yorker writer. Munro, in replying, called that book the very thing she most wanted. The Stories of John Cheever would go on to sweep the Pulitzer, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award.

"The Beggar Maid" sold just under 4,000 copies.

This is the first US edition first printing with first state dust jacket that is unclipped, showing the correct price of $8.95. The book is bound in cream board over a white board spine with gilt lettering, and has dull red topstain. The copyright page should state "First American Edition" with no mention of additional printing.

This book is rare and a VG first printing copy with first state dust jacket is now quite hard to find. The listing price on Abebooks, of which only a few copies are available, is $175 onwards. This is a VG+ copy with a VG+ dust jacket due to some rubbing, and a NF book that is tight and clean. 
There are no official signed first editions but you can find signed copies of this edition. Munro's signature is rather simple, so caveat emptor.

* Thacker, Robert. (2011). Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives, A Biography. Random House.
















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