Publisher: Benjamin Charles
After the success of Auld Lichts, a collection of nostalgic sketches of his home town, Barrie published his first novel written in 1887, Better Dead, privately and at his own expense in 1888 and it failed to sell. It was published in the shape of a little shilling book with a coloured cover, suggestive of a ‘shilling shocker’, with the device containing a sanguinary sword, a revolver and an anarchical creature with a dagger in his hand.
The novel was inspired two years earlier by an article found in a paper published in the St James’s Gazette on April 21, 1885. The story suggested the formation of a society for ‘getting rid of people who would be better out of the way’. The narrative introduces the character Andrew Riach, a young Scotsman who has come to town intending to become the private secretary to a member of the Cabinet, and “if time permitted, he proposed writing for the Press”.