Abandoned Bookshop is releasing Appius and Virginia, the debut novel by G E Trevelyan, hailed by critics as one of the 1930s' most important novelists before her early death in the Blitz.
Appius and Virginia, originally published by Martin Secker in 1932 but now out of copyright, tells the story of a single woman who tries to counter the tedium of her life by buying a young orangutan, whom she names Appius, and teaching him to eat, sleep, read and speak like a human. As Appius gains knowledge he moves ever closer to the one discovery Virginia does not want him to make: that of his true origins.
The Spectator called it “a brilliant debut” and the critic of the New Statesman wrote: “One lays down the book grieving oddly over this half-man and feeling that in some sense he is symbolic of human destinies.”
Abandoned Bookshop, an imprint amining to discover the best books that have been forgotten, is republishing it for the first time since Trevelyan’s death in association with Eye and Lightning Books.
The new edition, published on 16th November, comes with an introduction by Trevelyan scholar Brad Bigelow, who says the novel “may be one of the most powerful stories about loneliness ever written".
Born in 1903, Gertrude Eileen Trevelyan was the first woman to be awarded Oxford University’s prestigious Newdigate Prize for Poetry. She went on to write eight novels between 1932 and 1941. Her flat was bombed in the London Blitz, and she died of her injuries in 1941.
Scott Pack, co-founder of Abandoned Bookshop and editor-at-large at Eye and Lightning Books, said: "When I first discovered the work of G E Trevelyan, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of her before. I feel sure booksellers and readers will feel the same way when they discover Appius and Virginia. It is a remarkable debut from an author who died tragically young."