The 1924 Club : A Confusing Challenge!


The Internet is notoriously unreliable, and a little confusion has arisen around one of the books we’ve been considering for the 1924 Club – Vita Sackville-West’s “Challenge”.

The Virago Modern Classics collection tracker has this listed as a 1924 publication; however, a number of readers have commented that this information differs online, with 1923 often cited as the publication date. So I decided to do a little digging…

I possess a copy of “Challenge” – not a nice green Virago, but an old and rather gnarled volume from Avon (whoever they were!) and it looks like this:

challenge front

The crucial point here is the wording about the book being suppressed, as it wasn’t published in the UK  during Vita’s lifetime – only in the USA, and that’s where the 1920s date comes in.

The back cover reveals a little more about the book:

challenge backSo I had a look inside to see if the first publication date was given, but it wasn’t – only some later dates in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the book’s foreword came up trumps!

challenge foreword

As this states quite clearly that “Challenge” was published in New York by George H. Doran Company in 1924, I think if anyone wants to read it for the 1924 club, they’ll be quite free to do so! :))

…. in which I hit the Virago jackpot! :)


Well, the good news is that I got out of the Oxfam this week with no new volumes….

….. however, I had a little more book-finding luck in the Age Concern Charity Shop – which is not one I usually find many books in (just the odd modern Virago). However, I spotted a lovely green spine at the start of the fiction shelf and it was an Elizabeth von Arnim I don’t have (“Love”) and in excellent condition. Then I spotted another green spine a bit further along… then another. It dawned on me that someone must have been clearing out their Virago shelves (heavens!) and I ended up with eight (yes eight!) lovely green spined volumes in my arms:

The photo is a bit fuzzy (I’m not great with a camera, I confess!) so here are a few more pictures so you can see what they are:

The O’Brien is a particularly lovely cover! I think I already have the Markham but if so I shall offer the dupe on the LibraryThing Virago thread!

I’ve never seen either of these titles before, which was very exciting!

Yes, I *know* I already have two copies of “The Constant Nymph” in the house, but this one is in lovely condition and the other two are frankly not, so I’m happy to have a nice one!

Finally two Antonia Whites. I already have a complete set but may be able to upgrade the ones I have and offer these on.

The best bit? They were 99p each….. Phew!!!!!

And just in case it seems like I was favouring the Viragos, a very lovely old Pelican book on “Existentialism” just happened to fall into my shopping bag in exchange for a £1 coin:

Needless to say, I had aching shoulders and arms by the time I got home…… 🙂

Current reading:

Having just finished a wonderful review book (“The Spy who Changed the World” – review to follow later this week), I’ve gone for a complete change with “Eve Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual”, a beautiful hardback book which was a gift from Youngest Child a while back. So far it’s excellent, but it’s having the effect of making me want to re-read and re-evaluate everything of Plath’s I’ve ever read – which could be time-consuming…..


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