Thomas Burke-The Golden Gong and Other Night-Pieces, Ash-Tree Press 2001, Limited Print

  • £50.00

Published by Ash-Tree Press on 30th March 2001 and limited to 600 copies. The book comes in hardback maroon cloth with gold writing on the spine, with 194 numbered pages. Cover painting by Paul Lowe. 

Condition: As New, no visible damage or wear.

'My encounters in this city of all souls have been amusing, stimulating, ludicrous, beautiful, disturbing, and queer.' Thus wrote Thomas Burke (1886–1945), referring to the people, places, and things of London; or, more specifically, the area of London known as Limehouse, which in Burke's youth was the haunt of sailors, dock-workers, and Chinese immigrants. It was a world of sights and sounds that entranced and enthralled the young boy, who would wander at will through its crowded streets, welcomed by the inhabitants and drinking in their language, customs, and traditions. In 1916 he published Limehouse Nights, a collection of tales based on his experiences in the district; but he was saddened to find that the world of which he had written had already, for the most part, disappeared.

Burke was always fascinated by the dark underside of life, and this found expression in many of his tales, which feature the uncanny, the outré, and the grotesque. In The Golden Gong, Jessica Amanda Salmonson has gathered together twenty-one of Burke’s tales of the weird and the supernatural, including such classics as 'The Hands of Mr Ottermole' and 'The Hollow Man'. Also included is a reminiscence by publisher Grant Richards, who recognised the brilliance of Limehouse Nights after it had been turned down by several other publishers; and in an extensive introduction, Salmonson looks at the colourful, and sometimes contradictory, life of Thomas Burke.

CONTENTS: 'The Tenderly Sadistic Vision of Thomas Burke' by Jessica Amanda Salmonson; 'The Golden Gong'; 'The Scarlet Shoes'; 'The Bird'; 'The Tablets of the House of Li'; 'White Wings'; 'The Hands of Mr Ottermole'; 'The Yellow Imps'; 'Desirable Villa'; 'The Secret of Francesco Shedd'; 'Miracle in Suburbia'; 'Uncle Ezekiel's Long Sight'; 'The Horrible God'; 'Johnson Looked Back'; 'The Black Courtyard'; 'The Gracious Ghosts'; 'The Man Who Lost His Head'; 'The Lonely Inn'; 'Events at Wayless-Wagtail'; 'The Bloomsbury Wonder'; 'The Hollow Man'; Afterword: Grant Richards on Thomas Burke.