Sunday, October 02, 2011

Eric Ambler

After a run of galleries for SF authors, I thought it would be a break to have something from a classic writers of thrillers and spy fiction. Eric Ambler was one of the first writers to try and bring a sense of reality to spy fiction, taking his cue from Somerset Maugham's Ashenden. From the very beginning, he wrote novels that eschewed the bravado of Sapper's Bulldog Drummond and Buchan's Richard Hanney; his heroes were ambiguous and sometimes uncertain and out of their depth, caught up in the machinations of international intrigue. John Le Carre, who had his own gallery here recently, is his natural successor.

Generally speaking The Mask of Dimitrios and Epitaph for a Spy are considered the classics from his early period (1930s); mid-period (1940s/50s), his best novel was probably The Schirmer Inheritance; and, of the later novels, the best are probably The Light of Day (filmed as Topkapi), its sequel, Dirty Story and The Levanter.


The Dark Frontier. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1936; New York, Mysterious Press, 1990.
Hodder & Stoughton C346, 1959. Cover by Oliver Brabbins
Fontana Book 1497, 1967, 222pp, 3/6. Cover by unknown
----, [xth imp.] 1984

Uncommon Danger. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1937; as Background to Danger, New York, Knopf, 1937.
Hodder & Stoughton C1, 1952, 255pp, 2/-. Cover by Mudge Marriott
Penguin Books 1467, 1960, 223pp, 2/6. Cover: desgn
Fontana Books 0006-15011-X, 1977, 220pp.
Penguin Books 0141-19034-5, 2009, xi+236pp.

Epitaph for a Spy. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1938; New York, Knopf, 1952.
Pan Books 71, 1948 (Jan 1949), 224pp, 2/-.Cover by Pares
Hodder and Stoughton C431, (May) 1960
----, [xth imp.] 1966.
Coronet 0340-16852-8, 1973, 219pp.
Pan Books 0330-37244-0, 1999, x+244pp. [introduction by Robert Harris]
Penguin Books 0141-19031-0, 2009, vii+226pp. [introduction by James Fenton]

Cause for Alarm. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1938; New York, Knopf, 1939.
Penguin Books 517, 1945, 285pp. Cover: design
----, [2nd imp.] 1947
Pan Books 305, (Oct) 1954, 223pp, 2/-. Cover by FVM
Penguin Books 517, [3rd imp.] 1961, 248pp, 2/6. Cover: design
Coronet 0340-16851-X, 1973, 248pp.
Pan Books 0330-39619-6, 2000, x+337pp. [introduction by Robert Goddard]
Penguin Books 0141-19032-9, 2009, viii+269pp. [introduction by John Preston]

The Mask of Dimitrios. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1939; as A Coffin for Dimitrios, New York, Knopf, 1939.
Pan Books 114, (Nov) 1949, 255pp.
Pan Books G426, 1961, 220pp. Cover by S. R. Boldero
Fontana Books 0006-14206-0, 1966
----, [2nd imp.] 1969
Fontana Books 0006-16812-4, [xth imp.] 1983, 221pp.
Coronet 0340-55449-5, 1991, 272pp.
Pan Books 0330-37243-2, 1999, 304pp.
Penguin 0141-19033-7, 2009, vii+226pp, £9.99. [introduction by Mark Mazower]

Journey into Fear. London, Hodder and Stoughton, and New York, Knopf, 1940.
Hodder & Stoughton C38, 1952, 2/-.
Fontana Books 1321, 1966, 192pp. Cover by unknown
Fontana Books 0006-13916-7, [xth imp.] 1975, 192pp.
----, [4th imp.] 1979, 192pp.
----, [xth imp.] 1983, 192pp.
Pan Books 0330-37245-9, 1999, x+256pp. [introduction by Robert Harris]
Penguin Books 0141-19030-2, 2009, viii+210pp.

Judgment on Deltchev. London, Hodder and Stoughton, and New York, Knopf, 1951.
Pan Books G363, (Jan) 1961, 202pp, 2/6. Cover by S. R. Boldero
Fontana Books 1270, 1966, 192pp.
Fontana Books 2172, [2nd imp.] 1969, 192pp. Cover: photo
Pan Books 0330-39618-8, 2000, x+275pp. [introduction by Robert Goddard]

The Schirmer Inheritance. London, Heinemann, and New York, Knopf, 1953.
Four Square Book 5, 1957, 189pp.
Consul Books 1226, 1963, 191pp, 3/6. Cover by unknown
Fontana Books 1544, 1967, 189pp, 3/6. Cover by unknown
----, [2nd imp.] Jan 1969, 189pp.
----, [3rd imp.] 1971, 189pp.
Fontana Books 0006-14658-9, [xth imp.] 1977, 189pp.
----, [xth imp.] 1983, 189pp.

The Night-Comers. London, Heinemann, 1956; as State of Siege, New York, Knopf, 1956.
Pan Books G115, 1958, 186pp. Cover by S. R. Boldero
Fontana Books 1323, 1966, 158pp, 3/6. Cover by unknown
----, [2nd imp.] Apr 1967
----, [3rd imp.] Sep 1967. [given as 2nd imp.]
Fontana Books 2118, [4th imp.] Oct 1969, 158pp, 5/-. Cover: photo
----, [5th imp.] Nov 1969.
Fontana Books 0006-16907-4, [xth imp.] 1984, 158pp.

Passage of Arms. London, Heinemann, 1959; New York, Knopf, 1960.
Pan Books G496, (Oct) 1961, 201pp. Cover by Sam Peffer
Fontana Books 1390, 1967, 224pp.
----, [2nd imp.] 1969, 224pp.
Fontana Books 0006-15299-6, [xth imp.] 1979, 224pp.
Fontana Books 0006-17072-2, [xth imp.] 1985, 224pp.
Pan Books 0330-39620-X, 2000, 336pp. [introduction by Robert Goddard]

The Light of Day (Simpson). London, Heinemann, 1962; New York, Knopf, 1963; as Topkapi, New York, Bantam, 1964.
Four Square Books 1202, 1965, 190pp, 3/6. Cover by unknown
New English Library 0450-00118-0, [2nd imp.] Sep 1968, 1968, 190pp.
New English Library 2773, [3rd imp.] Dec 1969, 190pp, 5/-. Cover: photo. Movie tie-in.
Fontana Books 3034, 1972, 235pp. Cover: photo
Fontana Books 0006-15688-6, [xth imp.] 1979, 220pp.
No Exit Press 1842-43174-9, 2006, 287pp.

A Kind of Anger. London, Bodley Head, and New York, Atheneum, 1964.
Fontana Books 1338, 1966, 221pp.
----, [3rd imp.] 1969, 221pp.
Fontana Books 0006-16659-8, [xth imp.] 1983, 221pp.

Dirty Story (Simpson). London, Bodley Head, and New York, Atheneum, 1967.
Fontana Books 4207, 1969, 206pp.
Fontana Books 0006-16481-1, [xth imp.] 1982, 191pp.

The Intercom Conspiracy. New York, Atheneum, 1969; London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970.
[as A Quiet Conspiracy on cover] Fontana Books 0006-16687-3, 1971, 208pp.
Fontana Books 2765 [2nd imp.], Apr 1972, 188pp, 30p. Cover photo
Fontana Books 0006-12395-3, 1974, 188pp.

The Levanter. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Atheneum, 1972.
Fontana Books 0006-13259-6, 1973, 222pp, 35p.  Cover photo
Fontana Books 0006-17069-2, [xth imp.] 1985, 222pp.
No Exit Press 1842-43149-8, 2005, 311pp.

Doctor Frigo. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Atheneum, 1974.
Fontana 0006-13996-5, 1975, 245pp, 60p. Cover photo [Continental Edition]
Fontana Press 0006-16569-9, 1976, 300pp.
----, [2nd imp.] Jan 1978
----, [3rd imp.]
----, [4th imp.] Feb 1986, 245pp, £2.75. Cover by unknown

Send No More Roses. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977; as The Siege of the Villa Lipp, New York, Random House, 1977; London, Prior, 1978.
Fontana Books 0006-15161-2, 1979, 256pp.
Fontana Books 0006-16929-5, [xth imp.] 1988, 315pp.

The Care of Time. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and New York, Farrar Straus, 1981.
Fontana Books 0006-16459-5, 1982, 299pp.
----, [3rd imp.] 1990, 299pp.

Novels as Eliot Reed (with Charles Rodda)
Skytip. New York, Doubleday, 1950; London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1951.
Tender to Danger. New York, Doubleday, 1951; as Tender to Moonlight, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1952.
The Maras Affair. London, Collins, and New York, Doubleday, 1953.
Note: two further novels, Charter to Danger (London, Collins, 1954) and Passport to Panic (London, Collins, 1958) were by Rodda alone.

Waiting for Orders: The Complete Short Stories of Eric Ambler. New York, Mysterious Press, 1991; expanded as The Story So Far, London, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1993.


  1. Hi Steve, You have Pan Books G426, 1961 'Mask of Dimirios' as cover unknown but if you look carefully on the right written vertically in red it says S R Boldero. Cheers, Tim

  2. Thanks, Tim. I've added Boldero's name.



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