Legend has it that Mickey Spillane wrote his first novel; I, The Jury, in just nineteen days. Despite its short incubation period, it sold more than six million copies in the US alone and started a sixty year writing career for Spillane – and a platform for the development of Spillane’s popular hero, Mike Hammer.
The popularity of Spillane’s books came in part from their simplicity and comic-book style story lines; but it was also the open use of sex and violence in their plotlines which attracted readers. Most books of the time were more reticent in this area and the public loved this more explicit approach. Private Detective Mike Hammer was a cynical, uncompromising character who used violence as a way of enforcing the law. Spillane used graphic descriptions of Hammer’s innumerable fights and the public responded enthusiastically.
Criticism for his novels was not infrequent and the literary merit and morality of his work was publically questioned. All this was invariably brushed aside by Spillane; his attitude being summed up in his response that “if the public likes you, you’re good.” And the public certainly liked him; his books selling more than 200 million copies with numerous film and TV adaptations produced.
Spillane’s popularity is reflected in the prices of his most collectible books. A first edition of I, The Jury published by E.P. Dutton in 1947 can fetch more than $1,500 at auction. His follow up book, My Gun is Quick, has realized more than $800.
While light on literary acclaim, Spillane is undeniably popular. With the added bonus of dramatic cover art and the populist themes of his books, Spillane has broad appeal. With thirty novels to his name, Spillane fans also have plenty of work to do as they aim for a complete collection.
Spillane, Mickey. I, The Jury. E. P. Dutton and Co., Inc., New York (1947). Author's first book; hardcover edition
Spillane, Mickey. I, The Jury. Collins, Toronto (1948). A White Circle Pocket Edition'; First Canadian edition
Spillane, Mickey. I, The Jury. New American Library (1948). US paperback edition
Spillane, Mickey. J'aurai Ta Peau. Les Presses De La Cite, Paris (1948). Translated into French by Gilles-Maurice Dumoulin; 'I, The Jury';
Spillane, Mickey. My Gun Is Quick. E. P. Dutton and Co, Inc., New York (1950). 2nd Mike Hammer detective novel
Spillane, Mickey. Vengeance is Mine. E. P Dutton and Co , New York (1950). 3rd Mike Hammer novel
Spillane, Mickey. One Lonely Night. E.P. Dutton, New York (1951). 4th Mike Hammer mystery
Spillane, Mickey. One Lonely Night. E.P. Dutton, New York (1951). Long galley sheets/uncorrected proofs; 4th Mike Hammer mystery
Spillane, Mickey. Vengeance Is Mine. Arthur Baker, London (1951). First British Edition
Spillane, Mickey. I, The Jury. Barker, London (1952). First British edition; 1st Mike Hammer Mystery
Spillane, Mickey. I, The Jury. E. P. Dutton and Co. Inc, New York (1952). Second printing; 1st Mike Hammer Mystery
Spillane, Mickey. My Gun Is Quick Pressbook. United Artists, Los Angeles (1957). Original Film Pressbook for the film based on novel by Spillane; Victor, Phil and White, George (directors); Powell, Richard (Screenplay)
Spillane, Mickey. The Girl Hunters. E.P. Dutton, New York (1962). 5th Mike Hammer Mystery
Spillane, Mickey. The Girl Hunters. Arthur Barker, London (1962). First UK edition; 5th Mike Hammer Mystery
Spillane, Mickey. Tomorrow I Die. The Mysterious Press, New York (1984). Edited with Introduction by Max Allan Collins; Limited edition of 250 numbered copies and 26 lettered copies signed by Spillane; Collection of Short stories
Spillane, Mickey. The Killing Man. Franklin Library, Pennsylvania (1989). Limited first edition preceding trade edition, signed by Spillane
Spillane, Mickey. The Killing Man. E.P. Dutton, New York (1989). First trade edition
Spillane, Mickey. Black Alley. Franklin Library, PA (1996). Limited first edition preceding trade edition, signed by Spillane; includes introduction by author
Spillane, Mickey. I, The Jury. Otto Penzler, New York (1996). Limited edition of 500 copies signed by author; facsimile of 1947 first edition
Spillane, Mickey. I The Jury. Easton Press, Norwalk Connecticut (2003). Limited deluxe leatherbound, signed by author
Spillane, Mickey. Mike Hammer Collection. Easton Press, Norwalk,Conn (2005). 6 volume set: I, the Jury. Kiss Me, Deadly. Vengeance Is Mine! The Big Kill. My Gun Is Quick. One Lonely Night; approx 10 sets signed by Spillane