Maiden Voyage is Denton Welch’s debut novel, a frankly autobiographical account of a short period in his life when – at the age of 16 – he ran away from his English boarding school, before being sent back to Shanghai to live with his businessman father. “Trembling with sex”, is how Alan Bennett wonderfully describes Maiden Voyage; and as well as portraying so acutely the passions and nameless longings of a teenage boy, and the strange quirks and brutalities of public school life, it is also a novel that deals with the agony of childhood bereavement – the suffering of a boy who has only recently lost his mother.
When Maiden Voyage was first published in 1943 it was an overnight sensation, and so graphic in its depiction of adolescence and the schooling system that Welch’s publisher – Herbert Read – was forced to seek legal advice. Seventy years on, there is little to shock the modern reader – but more than enough to earn a new generation of fans and admirers. William Burroughs said, “If ever there was a writer who was neglected, it was Denton. He makes you aware of the magic that is right beneath your eyes.”
Denton Welch's three novels - Maiden Voyage, In Youth is Pleasure, and A Voice Through a Cloud - are the launch titles in Galley Beggar Press's Digital Classics range. Through Galley Beggar Digital Classics we aim to offer a vibrant and eclectic collection of twentieth and twenty-first voices, ranging from the traditional to the experimental, all united by two things - their current unavailability in digital form, and (above all else) their extraordinary quality.
This brand new, first-ever digital edition of Maiden Voyage is accompanied by an introduction by the journalist and writer Suzi Feay.