First edition of ‘The World I Breathe’

world i breatheFirst edition of ‘The World I Breathe’ by Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions in 1939.

This is one of only 700 copies and was published exclusively in America – Dylan’s first book to come out in the States. This began the train of events that would eventually lead to Dylan’s four lecture tours of America in the early 1950s.

By 1939, Dylan had been published in American periodicals and anthologies,which proved to be a useful source of income. In December 1939, James Laughlin, who had founded his own publishing house “New Directions”, took on Thomas as an author, the result of which was ‘The World I Breathe’. It was a very elegant book issued in a small edition of just 700 copies. (Thomas’s bibliographer J.A. Rolph describes is as “the most scarce of Thomas’s books”).

It contained forty poems selected from his three British books and a group of short stories, mostly reprints – although it does include the first publication on book from of “A Prospect of the Sea” which Richard Church had rejected.

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