A Literary Forgery

Young and Sensitive

London: Hutchinson, 1964

8vo, pp. 175. Uncorrected proof copy. Original printed red stiff paper wrappers, lettered in black to front panel and spine. Endpapers illustrated with facsimile manuscript. Offsetting from newspaper clipping to pp. 110-111, otherwise a near fine copy with just a little age-toning.

Uncorrected proof copy of the author's first book. Sort of....

Young and Sensitive was written while Don Robson was in inmate of Dartmoor Prison. It was well reviewed ('A work of outstanding merit. It has a crude, jagged sort of vivacity...'), and was given the Arthur Koestler Literary Award, founded to recognise work produced by prisoners, and judged by such luminaries as J.B. Priestley, Henry Green and V.S. Pritchett.

Unfortunately, none of these luminaries had read a book called Fires of Youth by Charles Williams. Don Robson had - it was in the prison library. To pass the time while serving his four year sentence for car theft, Robson decided to copy out Williams' book pretty much word for word and set himself up as author. It was only after Hutchinson had sold more than 3,000 copies, Clive Exton had written a script, and Karel Reisz was preparing to shoot the film for British Lion, that the deception was discovered - by which time Robson had been released on license. Using the film option money, he got married and set up home in Wigan. Critics were ridiculed, prison authorities conducted inquiries, and a Dartmoor prison warder said: 'I reckon they ought to give the bloke a Duke of Edinburgh Award for initiative'.

A contemporary account from the Evening Standard is laid in between pp. 110-111, resulting in heavy offsetting. Otherwise, a lovely proof copy of a book whose own story outshines the one it contains.

Heathcote Williams' copy, although with no ownership markings.

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