Brevity is the soul of wit - Karen Bush

This blog post is dedicated to my two whippets, Archie and Angel, who have been my faithful and uncomplaining companions throughout its composition.

Book dedications fascinate me. Sometimes they are mysterious and intriguing, and sometimes give you a tiny glimpse of the author. Grumbling to myself recently about the prospect of having to wait a couple more years before being able to get my hands on the third part of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle, I re-read the dedication in the first while looking to see how big a gap there had been between parts one and two. It reads:

“To my mother,
who taught me to love books and opened the
door to Narnia, Pern and Middle Earth.
And to my father,
who taught me that if I was going to do something,
I should take my time and do it right.”

And instantly I was able to forgive him for having to wait for part three: these are books I also love, and that advice was straight from my dad too. I shall now try and wait more patiently.

Sometimes a dedication becomes an ongoing small story in itself. Try these ones for size – from Tad Williams’ Otherworld series of books:

 (Book 1):
“This book is dedicated to my father Joseph Hill Evans with love.
Actually Dad doesn’t read fiction, so if someone doesn’t tell him about this, he’ll never know.”
(Book 2):
“This book is dedicated to my father Joseph Hill Evans with love.
As I said before, Dad doesn’t read fiction. He still hasn’t noticed that this thing is dedicated to him. This is Volume Two – let’s see how many more until he catches on.”
(Book 3):
“This is still dedicated to you-know-who, even if he doesn’t.
Maybe we can keep this a secret all the way to the final volume!
(Book 4):
“My father still hasn’t actually cracked any of the books – so no, he still hasn’t noticed. I think I’m just going to have to tell him. Maybe I should break it to him gently.
‘Everyone here who hasn’t had a book dedicated to them, take three steps forward. Whoops, Dad, hang on there for a second …’ ”

Writing your dedication can definitely be fraught: who do you include, and who do you leave out? It’s necessary to tread carefully if you are to please one person and avoid offending someone else – and inclusion in a list of acknowledgments is just not quite the same as a dedication. Then there’s the form it takes: just a name? Initials perhaps? Or something a little more heartfelt – bearing in mind that what you write could unintentionally reveal something about the dedicatee as much as of yourself, and which you’d prefer remained hidden or that you might rue in years to come.

Yes, a dedication can  require as much thought and careful composition as the book itself.

Find out more about Archie and Angel
by visiting their blog at

Or discover who The Great Rosette Robbery and other stories is dedicated to by visiting


Kathleen Jones said…
Lovely post!!! My book dedications tell the story of how many children I had at the time and who i was married to - bk jacket blurb 'she lives with her husband X and three children in D' two years later 'she lives with her husband X and four children in F' A few years later it's 'she lives with her four children in B' and then finally 'she lives with her partner and 5 children in C' - wait for the next installment!!
Love the whippets by the way.
madwippitt said…
Thank you Kathleen! I had to get a dedication to them in somewhere!

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