Violet Books

Gallery of Orientalia, part III


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Kai Lung

Ernest Bramah's Kai Lung Beneath the Mulberry Tree (London: Richards, 1940) appeared after the brief "rage" for Kai Lung died down, & so never had an American edition until a library reprint house (Arno) brought it out decades after its first issue. It's a hard book to find.

Kong Ho

The Mirror of Kong Ho (New York: Doubleday Doran, 1930) is another rarity among Ernest Bramah's fine works. It affects to be a series of letters written by a young Chinese man in London to his father. The comparative realism is a satiric counterpoint to the famtastal stories told by the well famed Kai Lung.

Kai Lung

Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat (New York: Doubleday Doran, 1928). Kai Lung was a wandering adventurer, having gotten on in years yet no less roguish than in his youth, and who gets himself out of scrapes by telling stories. It means each of the tales has another story imbedded in it, a hugely witty affectation. This American edition of the classic collection of fantasy novelettes had a different pictorial for front & back boards, the same artwork having also graced the dustwrapper.

Green Diamond

The Return of Kai Lung (New York: Sheridan House, 1937) was the American title for The Moon of Much Gladness, Related by Kai Lung (London: Cassell, 1932). Ernest Bramah was an even more mysterious figure than his creation, Kai Lung. Though Bramah was well loved in artistic circles of London, he was reticent about his private life, so that next to nothing is known of his family, his travels, his origins.


This is the Burt dustwrapper for the 1922 Doubleday Page collection Tales of Chinatown, and issued in London from Cassell. The volume includes within its mix of mysterious and macabre tales the excellent ghost story "Tcheriapin" and a creeping hand story, "The Hand of Mandarin Qung."


Wulfheim (London, 1950) by Michael Furrey was not issued in the United States until Bookfinger brought it out under the author's vastly better known name, Sax Rohmer, in 1972. It's a tale of black magic in medieval Germany, with incest, melodrama, and all manner of occult activity, a good throwback to the gothic roots of supernatural horror.

Bat Flies Low

Here's another lovely Burt dustwrapper, this one for The Bat Flies Low initially from Doubleday Doran Crime Club, 1935. It is a thoroughly occult adventure, featuring Egyptological supernaturalism, a sorcerous adept of a secret brotherhood, and survival of ancient Egyptian technology.


No wonder Burt dustwrappers are highly prized. This one's for The Mask of Fu Manchu initially issued by the Doubleday Crime Club in 1932. The Evil Doctor was contradictorilly an embodiment of great nobility, a man whose word could be trusted. What better symbol for such a one as he than the Mask.


Bimbashi Baruk of Egypt (New York: McBride, 1944) is a collection of fantasy and detective short stories set mainly in Egypt. It appeared that same year in London as Egyptian Nights (Hale) and is scarce in either edition with or without this dustwrapper. This is so far the only dustwrapper I've seen for the McBride, and it's unfortunately been trimmed and pasted onto the front flyleaf, but still attractive enough even with the "I" missing from "Bambashi."


Tales of Secret Egypt is seen here in its Burt dustwrapper; it was initially issued by the Doubleday Page (1919). This is a fine collection of Egyptological thrillers and weird shorts. "Pomegranate Flower" is in imitation of Sir Richard Burton's translations of Arabian Nights adventures. "Death-Ring of Sneferu" involves a cursed object. Best are "Lord of the Jackals" about an old woman with power over jackals and "Valley of the Sorceress" set at the haunted tomb of an ancient queen. Plus Egyptological criminous thrillers.

Fables in Feathers

Edith Craine's The Call of the Veldt (Cleveland: World Syndicate, 1932) is a collection of four short, exotic mysteries with young protagonists. The stories are set respectively in Cape Town, Ceylon, Israel & Arabia, each finely illustrated by Charlotte Lederer. Craine wrote a series of these collections which volume by volume took young adult readers to all points of the globe.


Wardon Curtis's The Strange Adventures of Mr Middleton (Chicago: Stone, 1903). This handsomely embossed pictorial binding depicts Mr. Middleton & his Moslem buddy Achmed getting stoned off two stems of a hookah. Every even chapter consists of modern fantasy shorts while every odd chapter continues the relationship of the emir & Mr. Middleton, spoofing Arabian Nights fantasies.

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