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(Introduction)
1916, Eyes

1919, Shepherd
1924, Man
1924, Mine
1925, Son Father 
1925. Brian K
1926, Barb W
1928, Shepherd
(1928, Lights)
1930, Eyes
1935, When Man
1936,  Matthews
1936, The Mine
1936, Wild Brian
1937, West  Gold
1937, Out West
1937, Secret Vly
1937, Californian
1941, Shepherd
1949, Massacre
1959, Shep (TV)
1964, Shepherd

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7.  The Eyes of the World


The Eyes of the World, by Harold Bell Wright, dust jacket The Eyes of the World, by Harold Bell Wright

First Edition

Book Supply Company, 8/1914, burgundy cloth cover, dust jacket with illustration.

Total sales: 912,062

List of editions

Value Guide


Background and Description

Harold Bell Wright left Lebanon, Missouri in 1907 to pastor the Olive Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Redlands, California, but a short time later decided he could not be true to himself and continue as a pastor. According to the Redlands News, Sept. 5, 1964, "Wright's career as a preacher touched Redlands between February and October 1907."  Wright's health had become so bad that friends feared he would die if he continued to write and preach. Besides, he was now a best-selling author and realized he could reach far more people in print than in any pulpit. It was now that he wrote The Calling of Dan Matthews, The Uncrowned King, The Winning of Barbara Worth, and Their Yesterdays. But he wasn't quite through with the town of Redlands yet. In 1914 Harold Bell Wright finished this tale about how a good young man and a good young woman prevail over the evil social forces in "Fairlands," a western resort town that is obviously Redlands.  The story follows what is now Highway 38 to Forest Home and the mountains above. 

Though the inscription below suggests Wright had some reservations about people finding so much sex, greed, violence and general evil (by the standards of 1914) between the covers of one of his books, he obviously had some fun writing it. In Wright's mind the book may have demonstrated to his critics that he was quite capable of writing about things that are not all sweetness and light if he wanted to. But the story provided the venue for his most vicious attack on authors and critics of his day who made money by pandering to baser passions.

Because of the high level of conflict and drama, this was the first of his stories to be made into a movie and the only one to reach number one on the Publishers Weekly best seller lists.

Related Inscription

Wright penned the following note in a copy of this book now owned by Robert Lewis.  The recipient's name was scratched out, but was evidently a close friend to whom he gave a copy of each of his book. Otherwise, why would he present the person with the inscribed book and then say "Don't read this?"

"Dear ---, Please don't read this book - ever. It is not a bad book, but there is no need for you to read it, and it is not a nice book for you. I hated the thing all the time I worked on it but drove myself to its writing because I felt that it was given me to do. 

Harold"

Collecting

    All American first editions are by the Book Supply Company and look exactly like the illustrations above. The first edition was also available in red leather, with photos and genuine autographs of Harold Bell Wright and E. W. Reynolds. And it was available in green leather, without the photos and signatures. I do not know if the green leather edition should be considered a first edition. Hodder and Stoughton published a British first edition.  The book was reprinted many times by A. L. Burt, and by Appleton, Buccaneer (?), and International News. Most of the early reprints carry no indication that they are not first editions.

Though this was not Wright's best selling book, it was the only book he authored that reached the number one spot on the best seller list. There are plenty of firsts and reprints, but the first edition dust jackets are scarce. (Sold 750,000 the first month and 912,062 total.)

Review of Book by Dr. Joyce Kinkead  Copyright 1979 by Joyce Kinkead.  Used by Permission.

            The Eyes of the World (1914) offers a very different picture from Helen of the Old House.  While the latter novel focuses on the depression conditions of poverty stricken laborers, the earlier novel explores what Wright views as the false world of artists, writers, critics, and their wealthy patrons.     Continue >>>

Go to Eighth Book, When A Man's A Man

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This Harold Bell Wright web site is written and produced by Gerry Chudleigh with the help of many friends.
Copyright 2000-May, 2011 by Gerry Chudleigh
Last updated 05/26/11