[ Will Owen, illustrator of W. W. Jacobs. ] Two unpublished autograph volumes by Owen, the first and last of a three-volume work described by him as 'a more or less humorous account of a ramble round the Kentish Coast by two men'.

Will Owen (1859-1957), English book illustrator associated with W. W. Jacobs, cartoonist, caricaturist and commercial artist making posters for London Underground, creator of the 'Bisto Kids'
Publication details: 
'A Corner of Kent | by Will Owen | Flat 90. Charterhouse Square | E.C.1 [ London ]'. Undated [ late 1940s? ].
SKU: 20785

The two volumes constitute the first and last volumes (the middle volume is missing) of a three-volume work described by its author as 'a more or less humorous account of a ramble round the Kentish Coast by two men'. This unpublished work constitutes a topographical and social narrative, written by the well-known artist and illustrator when in his eighties. Stylistically indebted to Jerome K. Jerome, it is presented in the form of a discursive, rambling tale in which the author and his brother-in-law 'Smithy' encounter a wide range of Kent characters: gypsies, Whitstable sailors and booksellers, artists, crooks and cricketers. Topics include: 'The ways of crooks', 'Artists & praise', 'oysters', 'etiquette', 'Herne Bay Herne Old Sloper. Lears Col Parker's Queer characters', 'GPO at work', 'Dickens at Broadstairs', 'Sandwich golf – bull. Do animals think?', 'deal boatmen', 'Farmhouse nettle beer', 'Queer religions Dover Castle', 'billiards', 'Memory Earwigs'. A reference to the Kon-Tiki expedition dates the work to around 1947. The two volumes are in matching 4to notebooks with labels of London stationers W. Straker, Ltd. Both quarter bound with cloth spines and shiny paper boards: the first item's binding red and the second item's binding green. In good condition, lightly aged, in aged and worn bindings. Both volumes heavily revised with extensive additional matter. Vol.1: 114pp. The main body of the text on rectos and paginated to 106; with additional matter written on the versos. Vol. 2: 44pp. The main body paginated 214 to 235. Each page has a separate word count at the foot, and according to Owen the two volumes contain a total of 34,304 words (28749 and 5555); and the missing second volume contained another 28003 words, bringing the grand total for the work to 62307. The main body of text of the final volume is followed by material to be inserted, together with a two-page table of contents – with synopses of the thirteen chapters and word counts – and a draft of an undated letter to the London publishers Messrs A. P. Watt: 'Gentlemen | I have written a short book of 62,000 words “A Corner of Kent”. It is a more or less humorous account of a ramble round the Kentish Coast by two men, partly descriptive but mainly discursive and I think a publisher might get back much of his costs by securing advertisements from hotels etc at some of the towns passed through. Whitstable, Tankerton Herne Bay, Birchington, Margate Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Deal St Margaret's Bay, Dover and Folkestone. Shall I send the book on to you with a view to placing? | Believe me | Yours | Will Owen | Flat 90 Charterhouse Sqre | London EC.1 | Tel. CDE. 6737'. The preface reads: 'I have written this book for two reasons; firstly because I enjoyed writing it and secondly in the hope that it might sell | Will Owen'. The start of the first chapter gives a good indication of the tone: 'CHAPTER I | Smity suggests a walk | It was one day during that fine summer we had some years ago, when Smith suggested we should go hiking for a week or ten days. I was mildly surprised as it wasn't like Smithy, who never walks if he can help it and I ought to have known it was my sister's idea. She had hinted more than once that her husband wasn't getting enough exercise and seemed to imply that I was in some way to blame. | “And don't you overdo it”, said Vera. “I don't want my husband to come back a wreck.[“] | If I came back a wreck, she couldn't care less apparently. | We reassured her about the overdoing part – as Smithy said, we shouldn't be walking all the time, we might drop in to some quaint old country inn to rest awhile occasionally listen to the locals and hear what they thought about things – it would be an education for us. “Ten miles a day could be about our limit” he said “with breaks”, he added. | I thought we might make it twelve at a pinch. | “I shall keep a diary” said Smithy. | “Whatever for?” asked Vera. | “Oh! just to jot things down, where we stay, people we meet, any adventures we may have, and so on.[“] | “What sort of adventures?” demanded Vera. | “You never know”, said Smithy “we might stop a runaway horse, save some poor devil from throwing himself over a cliff – anything.”'