The history of Ballantine Books publishing the works of E.R. Eddison (1882-1945) is rather complicated, especially as one delves into the Pan/Ballantine editions and Canadian printings. It involves only four books: The Worm Ouroboros (originally published in 1922), followed by the three volumes of Zimiamvia, Mistress of Mistresses (1935), A Fish Dinner in Memison (1941), and The Mezentian Gate (1958). The Ballantine Books editions of Eddison’s four novels came out in the U.S. between 1967 and 1969. Interestingly, the first edition of A Fish Dinner in Memison had been published only in the U.S., so the Pan/Ballantine edition of 1972 is the first edition of the book published in the U.K. Conversely, The Mezentian Gate, originally published only in the U.K., had its first American edition in the 1969 Ballantine paperback.
Does one consider any of the Eddison books as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series? That depends, for when the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series began officially in the U.S. in May 1969, all four Eddison volumes had already been published. Yet for The Mezentian Gate, which was published in April 1969, one month before the official start of the series, the phrase “A Ballantine Adult Fantasy” runs up the spine (in small type) near the top of the front cover, and there is an advertisement on the final page of the book for “Great Masterpieces of Adult Fantasy” which includes four of the titles soon to be published as part of the series proper. And all four of the Eddison titles are definitely part of the U.K. Pan /Ballantine Adult Fantasyseries.
Yet nearly all of these printings of Eddison do not have the unicorn’s head logo on the cover. The one exception to this is the “Seventh U.S. Printing: September, 1973” of The Worm Ouroboros (345-22001-3 $1.25), which has the unicorn’s head logo on the front cover. So whether one counts the Eddisons as part of the series really depends upon how you define the series itself.
The cover art for three of the four books was done by Barbara Remington, who did the similarly psychedelic covers for the first Ballantine editions of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings. She was unavailable to do The Mezentian Gate, so another artist, William Benson, was hired to do the cover in a style like Remington’s. Beginning in 1977, the original Ballantine covers were replaced with new covers by Murray Tinkleman.
It is sad to note the decreasing number of printings of the successive books by Eddison. While The Worm Ouroboros achieved twelve U.S. printings between 1967 and 1981, Mistress of Mistresses saw four, A Fish Dinner in Memison four or five, and The Mezentian Gate only two.
If any reader of this blog has any of the below printings of The Worm Ouroboros marked “not seen” and can supply scans of the covers, title and copyright pages, I’ll be grateful. Contact me at nodens100 at gmail dot com.
Readers of Eddison will be interested to know that the omnibus Zimiamvia (Dell, 1992), containing Mistress of Mistresses, A Fish Dinner in Memison, and The Mezentian Gate, published for the first time some additional parts Eddison wrote of The Mezentian Gate. This includes a large section of chapter 30, and other passages in chapters 8, 12, and 31-33.
My thanks go to Trevor Livelton, Bill Lloyd, and Jon Preece for assistance with this post.
The Ballantine Printings of E.R. Eddison
The Worm Ouroboros
New York: Ballantine Books, [April] 1967 [cover art by Barbara Remington]
“First Printing: April, 1967” on copyright page
Second Printing: April 1967 [3rd & later printings say May] [not seen?]
“Third American Printing: October, 1967” [printings listed as “First American
Printing … Third American Printing”]
“Fourth American Printing: May, 1968”
“Fifth Printing: August, 1970”
“Sixth Printing: March, 1972” [printed in England; 7th says January 1972]
[NB: This copy has U.S. price of $1.25 printed on the cover, and no
“Seventh U.S. Printing: September, 1973” [Unicorn Mast on front cover]
[Beginning with the 7th printing, the list of printings on the copyright
page has been reset so that each line reads “First U.S. Printing” /
“Second U.S. Printing” / etc.]
Eighth U.S. Printing: October, 1974
“Ninth U.S. Printing: February, 1976”
“Tenth U.S. Printing: November 1977” [cover art, by Murray Tinkelman]
“Eleventh U.S. Printing: June 1978”
“Twelfth U.S. Printing: December 1981” [cover border color changed from
green to light orange]
First Canadian Printing: September 1967
Second Canadian Printing: November 1967
London: Pan/Ballantine, [June 1971] [not seen] Printed in Canada. Price
U.K. 40p [0 345-02001-4]
[2nd printing] 1972, [not seen] Price U.K. 50p [0-345-09740-8]
“3rd printing 1973” [0-330-23841-8 “Printed in Great Britain by Richard
Clay” Prices on rear cover: U.K. 50p, plus Australia and New Zealand.
“Not for sale in Canada.”
“4th printing 1975” [0-330-23841-8 Prices on rear cover: U.K. 75p, plus
Australia and New Zealand. “Not for sale in Canada.”
|10th and 12th printings|
Mistress of Mistresses: A Vision of Zimiamvia
New York: Ballantine Books, [August] 1967 [cover art by Barbara Remington]
“First Printing: August, 1967” on copyright page
Second Printing: September 1967
Third Printing: May 1968
“Fourth Printing: January 1978” [cover art by Murray Tinkelman]
First Canadian Printing: November 1967
[U.K. edition:] New York: [Pan/]Ballantine, [June, 1971] [have] “Printed in
Canada” on copyright page. “Cover printed in Canada” on rear cover.
Prices and ISBN on reader cover: 345-02006-5 U.K. (8/-) 40p, plus
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. The copyright page lists the
Third Printing: May 1968 as the latest printing, but this must be an
unacknowledged Canadian printing made for distribution in the U.K.
“Pan” as publisher and the 1971 date of first U.K. publication do not
appear anywhere on the book.
A Fish Dinner in Memison
New York: Ballantine Books, [February 1968] [cover illustration by Barbara
Remington.] “First Printing: February, 1968” on copyright page
Second Printing: September 1970
“Third Printing: April 1978” [cover art by Murray Tinkelman]
Fourth Printing: May 1978 [mentioned in the “Special Printing” below]
First Special Printing: July 1978 [This is apparently a printing for the U.K.
market, with a price of £1 on rear cover. Also, this has a different
[Fifth?]: July 1979 [not seen]
London: Pan/Ballantine, [July] 1972 [345-097410-6 “Printed in Great Britain
by Richard Clay” Prices on rear cover: U.K. 40p, plus Australia and
New Zealand. “Not for sale in Canada.”]
The Mezentian Gate
New York: Ballantine Books, [April 1969] [uncredited cover illustration by
William Benson, in the style of Barbara Remington]
“First American Printing: April, 1969” on copyright page
“Second Printing: May 1978” [cover art by Murray Tinkelman]
London: Pan/Ballantine, [July] 1972 [345-09742-4 “Printed in Great Britain by
Richard Clay” Prices on rear cover: U.K. 40p, plus Australia and New
Zealand. “Not for sale in Canada.”]