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1916, Eyes

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9.  The Recreation of Brian Kent 


The Recreation of Brian Kent, by Harold Bell Wright, dust jacket The Recreation of Brian Kent, by Harold Bell Wright

First Edition

Book Supply Company, 8/1919, burgundy cloth cover, dust jacket with illustration.

Total sales: 702,043

List of editions

Value Guide


Background

The story of this book is set in the Missouri Ozarks. I am not aware of any exact location. As with most of Harold Bell Wright's books, this one has a huge autobiographical element to it. Almost always described as a "sweet' story, this tale demonstrates that sometimes a good man just needs to leave an unpleasant and unappreciative wife and move on to a new one. Harold Bell Wright himself lost a lot a fans and admirers when he filed for divorce from his first wife about the time he started writing this book. He remarried a year after the book was published.

Related Inscription

Robert Lewis, who owns a copy of The Recreation of Brian Kent with the following inscription comments, "This book and the next [The Eyes of the World] both have the name scratched out but they were [evidently] close friends because this one had six or so personal pictures of HBW pasted in the back." Chudleigh's guess: From the tone of this letter and the one in The Eyes of the World, I assume both inscriptions were written to a gentle little lady, who Wright thought would be offended by the immoral events in Eyes. And that woman became a close friend while Wright lived in the Mission Inn in Riverside, Calif. The only person I am aware of who fits that description and fits it very well is the wife of the influential Armenian painter Hovsep Pushman, the woman depicted in the painting that Hovsep gave to Wright. Or maybe not.

Dear --- ,

How can I even thank you for "Brian Kent"?  You who were the first to ever hear this story as it came, crude and unfinished from my hand in the little study in Mission Inn - you more than you can even know made the story what it is. Thank you is too little to say. Perhaps the book itself can somehow make known to you my gratitude. 

Harold

Collecting

All American first editions are by the Book Supply Company and look exactly like the illustrations above.  The first edition was also available in leather.  Hodder and Stoughton published a British first edition.  The book was reprinted by A. L. Burt and Appleton.  Most of the reprints carry no indication that they are not first editions.

Total sales: 702,043

If you have wandered from book store to book store for years looking for the Harold Bell Wright books still missing from your collection you are probably tired of seeing this title. Even though it was not Wright's best seller it seems to be among the most likely to show up for sale. There are two versions of the dust jacket. The most common one by far shows a young man walking into the woods with an vulnerable-looking girl on his arm and an axe over his shoulder. Some have speculated that it was this rather frightening scene that led the publisher to use a less sinister illustration for a few later dust jackets. This illustration (below) is found following page 328 in the novel.  Thanks, Robert Lewis for providing this photo:

The Recreation of Brian Kent by Harold Bell Wright, alternate dust jacket

On the right is an interesting edition owned by Robert Lewis.  Dutch Edition, The Hague (capital of the Netherlands). brianforeign.jpg (18867 bytes)

Review of Book by Dr. Joyce Kinkead  Copyright 1979 by Joyce Kinkead.  Used by Permission.

           In 1919 Wright used the Ozarks again for his ninth novel, The Re-Creation of Brian Kent.  Unfortunately, the novel does not maintain the quality which can be found in the earlier novel.  In The Shepherd of the Hills, the landscape descriptions are realistic, depicting both the beauty of the spring season and the brutality of a drought.  In contrast, Wright dwells upon trite sunsets in his later novel.

            The novel focuses on Brian Kent, a bank clerk who steals money from the Chicago bank where he works to placate his extravagant wife who socializes with members of a degenerate, rich clique.  continue...

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This Harold Bell Wright web site is written and produced by Gerry Chudleigh with the help of many friends.
Copyright 2000-May, 2011 by Gerry Chudleigh
Last updated 05/25/11