Pirate City, The; An Algerine Tale…With Illustrations.

Ahoy, Maties!

BALLANTYNE, R.M. The Pirate City. An Algerine Tale…With Illustrations. London: James Nisbet & Co., 1874.

First edition. Small octavo (6 11/16 x 4 1/2 inches; 170 x 115 mm.). vi, [2], 400 pp. plus 16 pp. publisher’s advertisements (later issue of the advertisements with p. 9 undated). Wood-engraved frontispiece, pictorial title, and four plates.

Original maroon sand-grain cloth with front cover decoratively stamped in black, back cover decoratively bordered in blind, and spine pictorially stamped and lettered in gilt and black. Original gray coated endpapers. Early ink ownership inscription, dated “Xmas 1875,” on front pastedown. A near fine copy.

R.M. Ballantyne (1825-1894) was one of the most accomplished writers of adventure stories. He researched his books from life, “so as to achieve greater verisimilitude. For The Lifeboat, a Tale of our Coast (1864) he met and talked to crews; for The Lighthouse (1865) he spent two weeks with the keepers at Bell Rock Lighthouse, for Fighting the Flames (1867) he went out with the London brigade…and for Deep Down (1868) he visited Cornwall and made trips down a tine-mine. These exploits were undertaken as much for the thrill as to provide material for stories; Eric Quayle points out that Ballantyne had little interest in writing as such, and was chiefly concerned to act the part of one of his own heroes…His escapades became even more outlandish. He helped to drive the London-Edinburgh express, which resulted in The Iron Horse (1871); tried out a new diving suit in the Thames, and wrote Under the Waves (1876); and wandered about the General Post Office disguised as a detective, an exploit that led to Post Haste (1880). For Pirate City (1874) he went to Algiers and dressed himself as an Arab” (The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature).

Osborne Collection I, p. 323. Quayle 51b. Sadleir 120 (green sand-grain cloth). Item #00588

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