FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE SHIP THAT SAILED TO MARS by William M. Timlin, 1923
This is the 111th in my series of Forgotten Books.
I like a nice illustrated book and have, at times, lusted after the beautiful works of Harry Clarke, Edmund Dulac, and Arthur Rackham. About twenty years ago I heard about a wondrous children’s book entitled THE SHIP THAT SAILED TO MARS by William Timlin. This was an extraordinary book with art to rival those mentioned earlier. In England it was printed on fine paper and vellum.
The book is short. There are 48 pages of hand lettered text and 38 accompanying illustrations. The story is fairly simple. The Old Man, never named, decides that he wishes to take a sailing trip to Mars. His friends scoff at the idea and he finds himself left alone. He devises a plan with the fairies where they design, test, and build the ship. The crew of ten is selected and they sail to Mars where they encounter many other stars and planets and dangers. They see monsters and serpents and indescribable things.
Finally they land on Mars and encounter the city of Mars and its inhabitants. There is a beautiful city and dragons and a lovely Princess and a missing Prince. The Old Man must help the Princess for she was to wed the Prince but he disappeared trying to vanquish sorrow from the Realm. The Old Man takes a dragon for a mount and searches for the Prince whom he finds and brings he back.
The art is lovely and I have included a few reproductions from the book. The original publication was possibly 2,000 copies priced at $12 which was a great deal for a volume at that time. Copies of that edition run into thousands of dollars each. I saw two of them at the world Science Fiction Convention in Reno last year. They were gorgeous. In 1993 Stonewall Publications did a hardcover reprint of the text and illustrations. Unfortunately it is not on the vellum and the illustrations are not individually tipped in plates. It is still a very beautiful book and one I am glad to own. I can aspire to the original edition but it will probably never be.
There are some of the Stonewall and a couple of other reprints around. There are copies available for something close to reasonable if you do a little search. And pricy, original editions are out on the web too,
I hope you check it out. It is a wonderful anachronistic piece and one which kids or grandkids might enjoy listening to you read to them.
Series organizer Patti Abbott hosts more Friday Forgotten Book reviews at her own blog, and posts a complete list of participating blogs.