The TRUE First Printing of the First UK Edition of the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous
First Printing Points of Authenticity
- Dust jacket: Blank on all the outside surfaces. Text only on flaps.
- Cover: Textured blue cover
- Spine: Gilt words “Alcoholics Anonymous”. No indication of the publisher on the spine.
- Title Page: Works Publishing Inc., New York City and Alanon Publications – BM/Found. London W.C.I.
- Copyright Page: US printings up to 14th Printing, July, 1951. Then ‘First Printing in England 1954’.
The binding of the book is similar to contemporary American printings except that this UK binding has blue boards that are textured with a woven pattern rather than the uniformly smooth blue boards used in the 1950’s American printings of the book. The front cover has the embossed words “Alcoholics Anonymous” (similar to the US version) and the words “Alcoholics Anonymous” printed in gilt at the top of the spine.
The book comes with a dust jacket, it is one that is blank on all of the outside surfaces: i.e. there is no printing on the front, rear or spine of the dust jacket. The only printing on the jacket occurs on the inside front and rear flaps - which has two quotes from the book and notes the price of “25s” in the text found on the inside front flap.
The book notes that the publisher in the USA as “Works Publishing” while the UK publisher is identified as “Alanon Publications”
There is no publication date noted on the title page, but the copyright page carries the notation “First Printing in England 1954” appearing beneath a list of all the US printings of the book from the First Printing in “April, 1939” to the Fourteenth Printing in “July, 1951”.
The type, text, spacing, and footnotes of this book are all identical to that found in the Fourteenth US Printing from July, 1951.
We can authenticate this as the very first printing of the book published in the UK from two sources:
There is a copy similar to this in Bill Wilson’s personal library, currently housed at his home, Stepping Stones, in Bedford Hills, New York. The catalog listing reads:
Alcoholics Anonymous 1939, First Printing in England by Works Publishing and Alanon Publications, 1954. Dark blue cover, plain book jacket with printing only on the inside. Inscribed: “To Bill Wilson, In humble gratitude for the things which have come to us through God and the channels He has used. Bill Hopper, Joe Tomkins, Bob Bauld, Alan Booth. Dec. 1954.”
A copy similar to this is also identified and talked about in the official GSO archives.
Notes include: “it is believed that there were only 200 copies of the British First Edition/First Printing of the Big Book published in Great Britain, and the same four people (who were responsible for producing this UK Edition) signed only ten copies of that edition.”
Note: This is one of the first 200 copies printed and one of only two known copies to have the original dust jacket, with the other being the copy at Stepping Stones. This is not one of the ten signed copies.
An absolutely gorgeous copy in original dust jacket: