Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1950. First American edition. Octavo, original tan cloth, original pictorial dust jacket. Staining to joints and hinges of book, wear to spine ends of dust jacket. Very good indeed. Item #190
"FOR JIM POWERS/WITH WARM REGARDS/FROM/EVELYN WAUGH"
First American edition of Waugh's historical novel, published in the same year as the British first edition. The American edition replaced the plain dust wrapper of the British edition with a lovely pictorial dust jacket by Arno. Waugh is said to have regarded Helena as his best work. He inscribed this particular copy for his fellow Catholic, the American novelist J. F. Powers. Helena was the Christian mother of the Roman emperor Constantine and Waugh's tale concerns her quest to find the relics of the True Cross on which Christ was crucified. Helena was canonized by acclamation and in liturgical art Helena is depicted as an empress, holding a cross. Waugh incorporates the 12th century legend, originated by Geoffrey of Monmouth, that Helena, as the daughter of the king of Colchester, was a British princess. J. F. Powers was pigeon-holed as a "Catholic novelist" in the post-war years but he was well-regarded on both sides of the Atlantic. Waugh declared that Powers was "almost unique in his country as a lay writer who is at ease in the Church; whose whole art, moreover, is everywhere infused and directed by his Faith.'' A fine association between the two Catholic novelists.