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John_Hartley

"Other Ranks" by W V Tilsley

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Jim Clay
2 minutes ago, David Filsell said:

Apologies. Forget last question. It was published in 1931 in London by R Cobden-Sanderson who, apparently also publiished Blunden's  Undertones of War in 1928 as well as four other books by him. Thus I suppose Blunden was judged the right man for the job. I'm struggling to find an contemporary review of Other Ranks. Any pointers gratefully receives.

Regards

David

The link I posted includes a snippet of a review by the TLS.

 

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David Filsell

Jim,

Thanks for that I had found that interesting site, but had to failed to note the publishing date or the TLS review. Will try harder.

regards

David

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Jim Clay
38 minutes ago, David Filsell said:

Jim,

Thanks for that I had found that interesting site, but had to failed to note the publishing date or the TLS review. Will try harder.

regards

David

:)

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David Filsell

Jim,

Thanks for that I had found that site, but failed to note the publishing date. The publisher was a small one with a relatively small output of books and I have a feeling that Blunden, who it also published, may have been instrumental in getting Tilsley published. I suspect it had a small print run.  Having trawled through my reasonably large collection of contemporary and modern books about or commenting on the Great War, Tilsley's seems to go book virtually unmentioned. It was of course published when disillusionment had set in and the peak in sales of books on the Great War had finished. Rereading the book for review in Stand To!, this new edition with its added research, underlines just how good the book was /is and the quality of its authorship. Equally the price and the quality of this new edition are amazing for 2019

Regards

David

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Dust Jacket Collector

For anyone still seeking the rare original, Tom Donovan has a copy in its dust jacket. It’s not yet on his website so you’ll need to give him a ring.

According to the new edition only a couple of hundred copies of the original were printed.

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David Filsell

DJ

That figure for original copies explains the rarity of the book and absence of comment about it in recent evaluations of Great War writing. Whilst any us enjoy originals, dust jackets, signatures etc, there is a lot to be said for the additional new material in this edition of Other Ranks. The recreation of the original dust jacket for this edition of the book is another nice touch too.

Regards

David

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Dust Jacket Collector
1 hour ago, David Filsell said:

DJ

That figure for original copies explains the rarity of the book and absence of comment about it in recent evaluations of Great War writing. Whilst any us enjoy originals, dust jackets, signatures etc, there is a lot to be said for the additional new material in this edition of Other Ranks. The recreation of the original dust jacket for this edition of the book is another nice touch too.

Regards

David

I wholeheartedly agree. It’s an excellent production, particularly with all the additional information regarding the author and the men he served with. Nice to have the original as well though.

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David Filsell

DJC!

Yes it would!!!!

Regards

David

 

 

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David Filsell
Posted (edited)

Well into the book now. The authorship and the author's insight hit the reader from page 1. It will be a pleasure to finish and , then, to review for Stand To!

It does seem as if the original number printed was just 200. I am so impressed by the book that may just cheat and for the first time put my review up on this thread before sending it of the the magazine.

Regards

David 

Edited by David Filsell

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pudsey63

I just bought it with my birthday voucher. thanks big sis! 

 

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David Filsell
Posted (edited)

It seems odd if only 200 copies of the book were in fact printed while the same publisher sold Blunden's masterwork in thousands of copies,having  publicised it greatly  (Blunden of course  wrote and introduction praising Other Ranks). Can anyone add anything on this? 

Edited by David Filsell

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Maureene

 I previously checked to see if there was an online edition available , and there is, on HathiTrust Digital Library, original source University of California, if you have access through a participating Library.

 

However, there were Google search results for a number of libraries which held this book, many not in the UK where the book was published, and a number of Google Search results for reference to this book in other books and articles. Overall the number of references was surprising if in fact there had only been 200 copies printed.

 

Cheers

Maureen

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Dust Jacket Collector
14 hours ago, David Filsell said:

It seems odd if only 200 copies of the book were in fact printed while the same publisher sold Blunden's masterwork in thousands of copies,having  publicised it greatly  (Blunden of cours  wrote and introduction praising Other Ranks). Can anyone add anything on this? 

I doubt the 200 figure. It’s probably more of a guess. Most publishers at the time would have printed at least 500 copies, maybe more. As far as Blunden goes, he was a well established poet by 1928 and so would have warranted a much higher print run.

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David Filsell

M & DJC

Thank you - most logical and helpful. It seems from a recently published book that the publisher had a considerable and interesting history and was enterprising in its publicity.

I think it best to say little more that the books appears to have had a relatively small print run. Equally I cannot but wonder if it was Blunden who introduced Tilsley to the publisher after having seen/been sent a copy of the manuscript by the author. As DJC notes Blunden was both well established and popular.  

 

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Michelle Young

Started reading this last night. A gem of a book 

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David Filsell
Posted (edited)

Herewith my review:

This re-publication of W V Tilsley’s Other Ranks, a book at the pinnacle of the mountain of other ranks writing about the Great War after 88 years came as both surprise and pleasure. Although frequently, and unfairly, described as a forgotten book, it is one with a great reputation

 

The books initial print was small; it has been speculated that only 200 copies were printed in 1931 – a suggested figure of 500 published copies seems more likely – at a time when the crest of the wave for war book sales had all but beached. Copies turn up rarely and are expensive. Nevertheless recent discussions on the Great War Forum have shown that readers of the work regarded it as a ‘classic’.

 

Many works by rankers - perhaps the majority - lack Tilsley’s skilled authorship, insights, observation of events, people and places which make a firm imprint on the reader. As the introduction notes, “As one finds information or sees photographs (metaphysical – ed) of the characters mentioned there is a real feeling of having known them”.

 

Tilsley’s account of marching up the line through Ypres underlines the convincing quality of his writing.

“It was at moments like this - the going into action, the

passing of a weary-eyed unit (never too far gone to scrape

up grins of friendliness and good luck and pity); the vision

of the Cathedral and the Cloth Hall  - that  Bradshaw wished

his pen were better able to describe the strange emotions.

But its power was inadequate. Were there any great writers

now in the army to tell what agonies and of body and mind

front-lines suffered?”. 

 

Although reviewed by the Times Literary Supplement on publication, there seem to be few, if any, other published early opinions of the work. Sadly, evaluation of Other Ranks is virtually neglected in newer works about Great War books.

 

Tilsley served in the ranks France from August 1916 and participated in the Battle of Ginchy, at Passchendaele and Menin Road Ridge. Gay Magnall’s valuable contributions to the new edition of the book include a brief record of the author’s war service, the names of the individuals he served with (which he carefully cloaked with pseudonyms in his text to ensure it was “truthful  without being spiteful“) and a sound glossary of relevant military terms.

 

It must also be said that Unicorn’s new edition, which enjoys a fine reproduction of the original version of the book’s evocative dust jacket, is both well produced and low-priced. The addition Gaye Magnall’s research on Tilsley and those with whom he served, saw wounded and die – and a glossary – are informative and valuable.

Reading underlines that despite his doubts the author's pen was most certainly was adequate for the job of writing about the realities of war. It is impossible to disagree with Edmund Blunden’s final words in his introduction to the original edition judging Tilsley “…  a candid historian and survivor”. This book is not one to miss.

Regards

David 

Edited by David Filsell

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