The first French edition published in France
The first French edition of The Little Prince published in Paris by Gallimard
Although the printing had been completed by 30 November 1945 and the book should have been available for Christmas, the first French edition was only released in France in April 1946. The Little Prince was thus published posthumously in France, exactly three years after the American edition.
This publication is a hardcover 93 page book, covered in blue cloth with the picture of the Little Prince and the "nrf" logo stamped in red on the front cover. It is protected by a colour printed dust jacket which looks a lot alike the one from "Reynal & Hitchcock". The "nrf" logo also appears on the title page above the publisher's name. On the back of the title page one finds the copyright notice, dated 1945, and the list of the other works by Saint-Exupery (Courrier Sud [Southern Mail], Terre des Hommes [Wind, Sand, and Stars], Pilote de Guerre [Flight to Arras], Lettre à un Otage [Letter to a Hostage]; we note with interest that Vol de Nuit [Night flight] is missing). On page 97 the colophon reads :
This statement is immediately followed by a number stamped into the page. This first edition consisted of 12'750 copies printed on Roto typo Navarre paper, numbered as follows: 12'250 copies from 1 to 12'250, 300 off-trade copies numbered from I to CCC and, finally, 170 unnumbered so called "start-up copies".
It is relatively exceptional to come across a first French edition with its original dust jacket. However there is no doubt that such a jacket indeed accompanied the 12'00 copies of this first Gallimard edition. As proof, here is the estimate established on 14 June 1945 by Jacques Festy who was production director at the "nrf". This quote also relates the work realized on St. Exupery's drawings.
Since the publisher did not have the original watercolours at hand he had no choice but to take them from the American edition in French. Despite the approximation of the drawings, some differences in the colours and a few - some quite mysterious – misprints due to the reset of the type pages, this first French edition thus looks a lot alike the one printed in New York. All these misprints were corrected in the subsequent editions; however, one remained unnoticed for several years since it had not been identified as a real mistake: it is the number that the astronomer gives to the asteroid he discovers - 325 in New York and 3251 in Paris.
On the same page one notices that the star that the astronomer was watching through his telescope has disappeared in the Paris edition.
First French edition
New York - 1943
First French edition
Paris - 1945