Limehouse Nights. Tales of Chinatown - Signed by ‘Barnaby Ross’ and ‘Ellery Queen’ - Thomas Burke 1916 - Grant Richards, London - First Edition, First Issue A superb copy of this collection of short stories, with fine provenance, not only signed by ‘Barnaby Ross’ and ‘Ellery Queen’, but described by them in Queen’s Quorum as a work of high literary art’, ‘the tales of subtle murder and Oriental passion’, which ‘became a classic overnight.’ Housed in a custom made leather slipcase and cloth chemise.

‘A London native, Burke knew the city intimately and brought it to life in essays, mood pieces, and short stories, most of which had a melodramatic atmosphere of crime. His first and best crime book was
Limehouse Nights (1916), a series of violent tales that rely on authentic background and Oriental flavour for their readability. Subtle passion and sinister murders abound.’ – Stenbrunner & Penzler.

Burke’s best friend ‘was the original model for the character of Quong Lee, the Chinatown philosopher in
Limehouse Nights... Several years later, when his aged friend was deported for having operated an opium den, Burke was inspired to write the first of his collection of short stores about Limehouse. To Burke, whose literary credo was “to tell a story as ably as Ambrose Bierce and to see and write as clearly as Stephen Crane,” Limehouse Nights was “admittedly violent stuff written hastily,” as a means of “simply telling tales”. But it firmly established his literary reputation in Britain, and the film adaptation of the first tale in the collection under the title Broken Blossoms extended the boundaries of his reputation internationally.’ – Reilly
  Reference: A Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone. Stenbrunner & Penzler, Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, 54. Reilly, Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers. Ellery Queen, Queen’s Quorum, 58. www.vincentstarrett.com.

Provenance: There is no indication as to whether Frederick Danny or Manfred B. Lee (aka ‘Ellery Queen’ and ‘Barnaby Ross’) signed this copy, but it had been there practice to sign using the pseudonyms, and according to the Vincent Starret blog, researchers who have seen the Queen books at the Harry Ransom Centre in Austin, Texas, report that the books there carry both the Queen and Ross signatures. Ellery Queen, and later Barnaby Ross, was the pseudonym shared by the writing team composed of cousins Dannay and Lee. Together, the pair wrote four
Drury Lane mystery novels, starring a Shakespearean actor and detective, as well as the Ellery Queen mystery series. The pseudonym pair was all the rage in the 1920s and ‘30s, with one of the cousins, usually Dannay, donning a mask and appearing in public as Ellery Queen. The cousins carried on a fictional dialogue as Ross and Queen in print and ended the intrigue in 1932 when Ross was revealed to be Ellery Queen. Several years later, when the writers behind the pseudonyms were unmasked, the public was so enamoured of them that their work continued to enjoy great popularity for decades to come.

Octavo (19.5 x 13 cm) pp. 311 [1]. In publisher’s orange-brown cloth, spine and front board lettered in brown.
  Condition: Near fine, offsetting to endpapers.   Ref: 109115   Price: HK$ 18,000