This weekend I sat down to write my dedication for Peter Nimble. This is something I have mulled over quite a bit in the last few years. Like naming my (imaginary) boat or drawing my (non-existant) tattoo, wording my first dedication was a flight of fancy. When my editor told to submit something by Monday, I completely clammed up. The fantasy had become a reality, and I was terrified of blowing it. Should I write something intimate and cryptic? Something sweet and funny? Something in keeping with the tone of the book?
Of course, it doesn’t really matter to a reader what I write. Readers are interested in the story, not in a few words opposite the copyright page. But every once in a while, I see a dedication that makes a book come alive — something that makes me long to know the author personally, and slightly jealous of the lucky dedicatee.1 With the spectre of those great dedications in mind, I started browsing my bookshelf, thumbing through examples that really stuck in my memory. Here are a few of my favorites:
A.A. Milne – Winnie-the-Pooh
As I’ve mentioned before, this whole book is adorable from start to finish. The dedication is no exception …
Jerome K. Jerome – The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow: a Book for an Idle Holiday
C.S. Lewis – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
G.K. Chesterton – The Man Who Was Thursday
This is a long poem written for Chesterton’s childhood friend, Edmund Clerihew Bentley. I think Chesterton is someone best taken in small doses, which would explain why this dedication is better than the book itself!
Adam Gidwitz – A Tale Dark and Grimm
And finally comes this newer edition to the canon of great dedications, which made me laugh out loud in the bookstore:
For those interested in reading more about dedications, there’s an essay collection called Once Again to Zelda that tells the story being fifty famous dedications; the book got mixed reviews, but still might be worth checking out. Also, feel free to put down your own favorite literary dedications in the comments section.
As for what I wrote in Peter Nimble? You’ll have to wait and see.
UPDATE: readers chimed in with their own favorite dedications here.