Ever since I imagined writing a book I imagined my dedication page. I’m not talking about the acknowledgements page where you thank everyone who ever helped you; I’m talking about that mostly blank page tucked in the beginning of a book, after the title page and publishing credits.
Many people give a clear dedication to a spouse for all his or her longsuffering, but some book dedications are cryptic — they proclaim a public thanks while alluding to stories more interesting than the book itself.
I am fascinated with the topic of book dedications because there is always a story behind the story. There’s a reason the author wrote the book in the first place, and there is often intrigue behind the dedication — a story or relationship we may never know. Here are seven examples of book dedictations:
A.A. Milne’s dedication to his wife in Winnie the Pooh:
To her - Hand in hand we come Christopher Robin and I, To lay this book in your lap. Say you’re surprised? Say you like it? Say it’s just what you wanted? Because it’s yours – because we love you.
Betty MacDonald to her sister in The Egg and I
To my sister, who always believed that I can do anything she puts her mind to.
John Steinbeck to his friend Pascal “Pat” Covici. As Steinbeck wrote Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters, he often mentioned the things he was tinkering with or building around the house. At one point, Pat asked Steinbeck to make him a box; Steinbeck joked that the only specification was that Pat shouldn’t be able to fit inside it. When Steinbeck finished East of Eden, he placed his 250,000 word manuscript into a mahogany box he had carved and sent it to Pat. The note he placed on top became the dedication page of the novel.
Dear Pat, You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, ‘Why don’t you make something for me?’ I asked you what you wanted, and you said, ‘A box.’ ‘What for?’ ‘To put things in.’ ‘What kind of things?’ ‘Whatever you have,’ you said. Well, here’s your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts – the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation. And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you. And still the box is not full.
Random blogger to actor Colin Firth in her future, hoped for book
Thanks for playing Mr. Darcy, and for wearing that white shirt in the lake scene.
J.K. Rowling to Sean PF Harris (the first of her friends to learn to drive and the first with whom she discussed her ambition to be a writer) in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
For Sean PF Harris, getaway driver and foul weather friend
C. S. Lewis to his God-daughter Lucy Barfield (age 12 when he began the writing the book and age 15 when it was finally released) in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
My dear Lucy, I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather
Dave Cullen to those injured and killed in Columbine
For Rachel, Danny, Dave, Cassie, Steven, Corey, Kelly, Matthew, Daniel, Isaiah, John, Lauren, and Kyle. And for Patrick, for giving me hope.
What are some of your favorite book dedications? To whom will/did you dedicate your book? What will you say? How will you say it?