The Art of Swimming - Captain Matthew Webb, A. G. Payne (editor) 1875 - Ward, London - First Edition (Published in two formats) Rare and important little (10.6 x 18.3 cm) work. Captain Matthew Webb was the first recorded person to swim the English Channel without the use of artificial aids. On August 24 1875, smeared with porpoise oil and wearing a red silk costume, Webb dived off from Dover Pier. He reached Calais, having been forced by adverse currents to swim 64 km in order to complete the straight-line crossing of 34 km, in a little under 22 hours.

This is the first account of that swim, and Webb’s earlier attempt, contributed by sports editor Arthur Gay Payne. As well as this, there is a chapter on the author’s life, including some of his early experiences as a sailor and a rather unfortunate scuffle with two Chinamen during a stop in Hong Kong, together with informative chapters on various swimming styles, advice on diving and swimming in the surf, and other records of recent and remarkable swimming feats.

Illustrated with coloured lithographic frontispiece portrait of Webb, and three full page engraved plates.
  Captain Matthew Webb (1848-1883) was a sailor, originally from Shropshire, who later found fame for his courageous swimming feats and water related stunts. His final swim – at attempt to cross the Whirlpool Rapids below Niagara Falls in 1883, cost him his life.

Issued in two formats, one cloth bound, blue pictorial cloth sold at 2/6d and this illustrated paper covered edition sold at 1/-. Both published around 1875, the paper covered edition is more delicate and thus scarcer.

References: Ralph Thomas,
Swimming. Mason, ‘Heroes of Swimming’ The Guardian 2013. Allen, Swimming with Dr Johnson and Mrs Thrale 229.

Small (10.6 x 18.3 cm). pp. 111 [1] [4-advertisements]. Original pictorial wrappers in yellow, red, blue, and black with illustration of Webb crossing the English Channel accompanied by an entourage of boats. With ‘Price One Shilling’ to head of front panel.
  Condition: Very good, minor wear and soiling to covers and corners, spine reinforced, light foxing to edges, rear endpapers and advertisements and occasionally throughout, upper edges of some pages with light rust stain.   Ref: 107644   Price: HK$ 2,800