The Riddle of the Sands. A Record of Secret Service. Edited by Erskine Childers. With Two Maps and Two Charts. London: Smith, 1903. First Edition. Pp xii, 886, with 4 pages of adverts at rear. Publisher's black cloth, title lettered in silver to spine, image of yacht in silver to upper cover. Repair to head & tail of spine, light scattered spotting to contents pages, but overall a very good copy. Housed in felt-lined solander box.
An early and classic example of the espionage novel that foresaw the Great War that was to engulf Europe in 1914.
Erskine Childers (1870-1922) was a skilled yachtsman and his book 'The Riddle of the Sands' (often referred to as the first modern spy novel) is a fictionalised account of German plans to invade England; it was based on sailing holidays he had taken in the Baltic. Childers became a supporter of Irish Republicanism and smuggled guns into Ireland in his sailing yacht Asgard. When he failed to support the Anglo-Irish Treaty after the Civil War he was executed in the Free State by firing squad. His son and namesake was later elected the fourth President of Ireland in 1973.