The Knox Brothers
New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1977. First edition. Octavo, original green cloth, original dust jacket. Slight bump to rear upper corner and base of the spine. A near-fine copy. Item #363
First American edition of this composite biography, a mythologizing celebration of the four Knox Brothers, published in the same year as the first British edition. Penelope Fitzgerald published her first book, a biography of Edward Burne-Jones, in 1975 at the relatively advanced age of 58. This second book by the daughter of Edmund Knox largely omits the two sisters (Ethel and Winifred) to focus on her father and his three younger brothers. Each of the sons of the Rev. Edmund Knox, the evangelical Anglican bishop of Manchester (1903-1921), achieved prominence in a different field: Edmund ("Evoe") was the editor of Punch magazine, Dillwyn ("Dilly") was a leader of the Bletchley Park code-breaking team that cracked Enigma during World War II, Wilfred was an Anglican priest in the Oratory of the Good Shepherd, and Ronald converted to Rome and became a Catholic priest and a celebrated author. Fitzgerald's sketch is one of four brothers of diverse talents united by a characteristic sense of reticence: "It was not the habit of the four brothers to show enthusiasm about their own work. That would have gone contrary both to their real modesty and to the Edwardian habit of understatement, the habit which called the massacre of the Somme 'a show,' and an expensive lunch at Simpson's 'something to eat.'" Dedicated by Fitzgerald: "for my father / 'Evoe' / of Punch" and illustrated with four photo inserts. The text concludes with an Appendix (diagramming the Enigma keyboard), a Bibliography, and a Genealogy table. This first American edition was printed and bound in Great Britain for distribution in the United States.