First edition, first printing published in 1948 by Constable, London. 162pp, Original pale blue cloth with black titles to the spine. Light fading to the spine area, light rubbing to corners and tips, small nick nick to the bottom edge of the upper board, toning to the pages which are very clean and tightly bound. It's a slender, cheaply produced title which usually suffers badly, this is a solid, clean example. The original wrapper is superb, very light rubs to the hinge corners and spine tips which have the smallest amount of chipping. Very light toning to the spine otherwise, this predominatly white wrapper is very clean and fresh, unclipped price of 8/6 net, wrapper designed by Joanna Dowling.
Inside the book is a letter from the author to Horror editor and anthologer Hugh Lamb dated 1973. It's a charming, frank letter where the author states poor sales as being the reason as to why he hasn't written anymore Ghost Stories since 'Sleep no More' giving insight as to why he thinks this is the case. He writes on stories in the collection, citing 'Music Hath Charms' as being the best in his opinion, but how he was a little 'chagrined' when a reader pointed out the premise being the same as Mead Faulkner's 'The Lost Stradivarius', a story which he had no knowledge of at the time writing his own.
'Sleep No More' is one of my very favourite collections. Rolt was close friends of fellow Ghost Story writer Robert Aickman, who is rightly being hailed now as one the the true masters of the genre, whereas Rolt's collection is woefully neglected. The verso of the jacket puts it well, "He reminds me of half-a-dozen famous writers, yet remians himself. Now M R James, now Arthur Machen, now William Hope Hodgson and 'The Whistling Room-but all the time Rolt." Rolt's tales take place against the backdrop of rural industry he was so familar with, coal mines, railways, blast furnaces and foundrys. Many of his stories predate what has become known as 'folk horror', his story 'Cwm Garon' set in the Welsh Valleys is, I believe as frightening and eerie as anything written by Arthur Machen. It's a stunning collection and a rare volume which has undergone a number of re-issues since Rolt wrote this letter lamenting poor sales. Susan Hill has written an excellent introduction to a recent paperback edition which also accompanies these items.