7 Ways to Do Book Dedications

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:

Loving

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.

Curious

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.

Striving

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.

Funny

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.

Touching

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

Sentimental 

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

Predictable

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? 

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This entry was posted in Fiction, Non-fiction, Writing and tagged by Lucille Zimmerman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Lucille Zimmerman

Lucille published a book about self-care with Abingdon Press. She and her husband are celebrating 27 years of marriage and are experiencing the "empty nest." She has a private counseling practice in Littleton, Colorado and teaches psychology courses at Colorado Christian University. On a typical day you will find her walking her dog Chipotle, reading, writing, and seeing clients. She loves good coffee, belly-laughter, fly-fishing, and Honey Nut Cheerios. www.LucilleZimmerman.com Twitter: LucilleZ

31 thoughts on “7 Ways to Do Book Dedications

  1. I loved reading these dedications, Lucille! My book dedications all fall into the “predictable” category. My 6 Alaska books are dedicated to my husband and one also to the Aleut People. The dedication of my first novel, MOTHER EARTH FATHER SKY, reads “To Neil who has taught me so much about joy and living and our children Neil and Krystal who have taught us both about love. And in memory of our daughter Koral.

    • Sue, I don’t know why I haven’t grabbed one of your books yet. I’m going over to Amazon right now. I’m guessing most people have a predictable dedication – nothing wrong with that. You are blessed to have Neil, Neil, Krystal and your daughter Koral who is with God.

  2. Great post, Lucille. I love reading book dedications too.

    Here’s mine from my debut novel, Lakeside Reunion (yes, it’s a little lengthy):

    How does someone thank the one person who sacrificed his dream for the woman he loves while being a continual supporter of hers? A lifetime of gratitude and love goes to Patrick Jordan, my incredible husband who gave up his badge for a scared, insecure wife all those years ago. I love you more than words can ever express. You are my real-life hero. I’m honored to be your wife. Semper Fi.

    For Scott and Mitchell. You inspire me to be a better mother and a better writer. Thank you so much for reheating leftovers and loading the dishwasher so I could write. I love you forever.

    For the men and women in law enforcement who put their lives on the line daily for our safety and for their families who support them.

    For Your Glory, Lord. Without You, none of this would have been possible.

  3. Lucille, I loved reading this. I enjoy reading the dedication pages of the books I am about to enjoy. I’ve never thought about all the different kinds of dedications before. :) The ones you shared conveyed so much. I haven’t really considered what mine will one day say. I guess, as I get closer to the time where it needs to be written, I will figure it out. For my first book, it will probably include the many people who have helped me. :) Maybe I can be as creative as some of the dedications you’ve shared. :)

  4. This was a great post. Just watched BBC’s Pride and Prejudice (again) this week. There’s a reason a book would be dedicated to the diving scene. lol

    And I think every book pulls out a different dedication . . . .

  5. Oh, I just love this post!
    I’ll share a funny story about dedicating my nonfiction book to my husband. He’d read the entire manuscript, but I kept the dedication page from him because I wanted to share it with him when I was holding the “real” book in my hands. He’d seen the acknowledgments — and his name didn’t show up at all. There was a general acknowledgment of my “family,” meaning my extended family. Meanwhile, I’d thanked specifics friends/critique partners by name. When I finally showed him the dedication to him, he confessed that he thought he’d been lumped in with the family comment … and there’d been a little hurt about that. Wonderful guy that he is, he never let on. So much for surprising him, eh?
    :O)

  6. Many years ago, when I was young and broke and my father was turning an important 40 years old and I couldn’t get him a present I promised to dedicate my first book to him. I don’t know what it will say yet, but I’m closer to finishing the book so I better figure it out. :)

  7. Aww, what a great post, Lucille. I struggled to figure out who to dedicate my fist novel to. Our nonfiction (Winning Him Without Words) was easy. We dedicated it to our husbands. So I prayed to God for help. He asked me, “who did you write it for?” Then it was clear. The main character is Lexie, a sculptress who is spiritually mismatched. The Soul Saver is dedicated to all the Lexies out there. :-)

  8. You know, I haven’t even given this topic any thought whatsoever. Wow! Now the ideas are flooding in. I’d like to combine a touching and funny, but avoid the predictable. Thanks for addressing a much-overlooked topic!

  9. What a great topic. My husband and I co-author crime fiction books with a difference… authenticity. Bob was a career detective, retiring at the rank of Detective Superintendent. In his last three years alone he took charge of 26 murder enquiries, 24 major incidents and over 50 suspicious deaths. I was a support worker in the same force for 17yrs. Our first two books are dedicated to the law enforcement officers -the true heroes who strive for justice for the victims and thier families and to the victims of crime who for us will always come first.

    We are now about to publish a third novel in the DI Dylan seires and we are in the process of dedicating that book too. Thank you for the inspiration everyone!

    Carol & Bob Bridgestock

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