This is Carr's first published novel, although he has said that The Battle of Pollocks Crossing was the first that he started to write. He wrote this novel while attending writing classes of the Worker's Educational Association.
A copy of the contract with Barrie & Jenkins for this novel is in files held by Kettering Public Library. These files also contain Carr's notes on the process he used to write a novel with photocopies of text that he had cut and pasted during his process of editing the novel. You can read about these files, here.
The working title of the novel in the contract was A Summer's Day. The publisher agreed to an advance of £100, a half payable in advance and the rest on publication. This is roughly equivalent to £2,000 in purchasing power in 2018. Carr was also offered royalties of 10% of the cover price of 18 shillings on the first 3,500 copies, which would have amounted to £262 10 shillings, if all had been sold at their cover price, and paperback rights. Carr was allowed six presentation copies of the work and to buy additional copies on trade terms. Also:
The publisher shall have the first refusal of (including the first opportunity to read and consider for publication) the Author’s next two works suitable for publication in volume form and the Author shall offer to the publisher for this purpose the same rights and territories as those covered by this Agreement.
This novel was awarded a prize by the North-East Arts Association (founded 1961, now defunct), which was restricted to writers born in Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. The first prize, of £500, went to Herbert Sutherland for his novel Best Out of Three (1960). Carr's award, of £100, was reported on 25th March 1966 in the local Kettering paper, the Evening Telegraph. The prizes were presented by John Braine (not John Beard, as reported in the newspaper), and the publisher Rupert Hart-Davis (who thought his biological father was from Yorkshire) was on the panel of judges.
The newpaper quoted JLC:
He then gave me the money and immediately my hourly rate for helping maintain the free libraries of our affluent society shot up from 8d an hour to 1s 3d. This affected me so profoundly that I only began to take note of the proceedings when a large beard was pushed in my face and one of the poets suggested that since I’d published a John Clare which had sold 6,000 copies, perhaps I’d like to publish him too. This frightening prospect recalled my wits and I caught the next train back to Normality.
The novel was dramatised for television in 1989.
● First edition, only impression
Printed by: Richard Clay and Comapny , Ltd., Bungay, SuffolkDust jacket design: S.R. Boldero Price: 18s NET. Copies sold: 2,098 (Rogers, 2003, p 207) Royalty: £178 (Rogers, 2003, p 207)
Front panel and spine of dust jacket
Front fold-in: A Day in Summer. J.L. Carr. A day in summer, of gruelling heat, and in the small country town of Great Minden it is the annual 'Feast' of immemorial origin. As usual, the market place has been turned into a fairground. What is less usual is the arrival by early train of a Londoner, Peplow. He is nobody more extraordinary than a bank clerk with the day off; but he has come to revenge himself on the man who, a year before, killed his son on the road. (The courts had aquitted him of blame, but Peplow, who had seen it happen and watched the mans' face after the aquittal, knew better). That same man is in Minden today, as a fairground operator.
But what had seemed to Peplow a simple, if suicidal task, soon becomes complex. He had not suspected, for one thing, that two of his former R.A.F. comrades would be living in Minden, nor could he have forseen the situation into which this would lead him.
Mr Carr builds up his picture of life in this not so sleepy little place with subtle skill and at times explosive candour. From the quiet beginning, interest and tension gradually mount to a brilliant and unexpected climax.
Rear fold-in: J.L. Carr now lives in Kettering, Northants, but was born in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He says that the only interesting thing about his education is that he attended Castleford Secondary School a few years after Henry Moore. Before the War he taught in Hampshire; he returned there after service in the R.A.F but moved to Northamptonshire because city life had become too anonymous. He has written a number of successful magazine articles, but this is his first book. Among his hobbies he lists cricket, and work on a massive Record of Northamptonshire in gouache paintings.
Notes: According to the BBC Genome website, Carr reported in a radio broadcast in July 1964 that it took him 11 years to write this novel. Carr described in an article in
The Author that he had sent both the original and duplicate typescripts at the same time to possible publishers, and publishers 9 and 10 both showed interest. He received an advance of £50 from Barrie & Rockliffe, which is equivalent to about £1,000 in 2019, based on inflation.
Kettering Public Library holds a copy of a letter written by JLC to the Public Library in Huron, South Dakota, in which he cites extracts from reviews of the novel:
Part of an inscription in a copy of the book sent to friends in Huron, seen on eBay:
I hope you like parts of this book. It's not really the story I meant to write. In fact, look on it as an experiment in creating people different from oneself. . . . It's odd &, in a way, frightening how easily people never meet. I've tried to say this on pp 82 & 83. Perhaps it is what the story is about.
Printed by: C. Nicholls & Company Ltd., The Philips Park Press, ManchesterCover photograph: Mark Sharrett Price: U.K. 40p, Canada $1.50, Australia & New Zealand $1.40.
Printed by: C. Nicholls & Company Ltd., The Philips Park Press, ManchesterCover photograph: no credit Price: U.K. 45p, Canada $1.95, Australia & New Zealand $1.65.
Notes: This is the more common edition of the novel published by Quartet, but it is generally uncommon. It is slightly smaller than the 1st impression.
Notes: There is probably a second impression, but it hasn't been seen. It probably has the same cover as this edition and was issued before the film edition, below.
Notes: This book is stated to be a third impression; a second impression of this edition has not been seen but probably had the same cover as the first impression. This new impression was published to coincide with the TV film of the novel released in 1989.
More information about later impressions and foreign language editions can be found on the Wikipedia page for this novel.