The art of the book dedication

Ah, the intrigue of the book dedication. Found after the title page and floating alone, a few black words on an otherwise empty white page. The dedication offers a tiny glimpse of the author’s private sentiments, posted publicly for the world to see.

Some are simple; for a loved partner, parent, child, mentor. Some are coded, enigmatic, using initials only. For these dedications, identities and relationships are kept private, while at the same time heartfelt thanks are offered openly.

A good dedication is a thing of beauty. The distillation of heartfelt emotions, belief and thanks offered up in a few short words. I always look out for them in the first few pages of a book. Call me strange, but the dedication can be poetry in a handful of words – the summation of who and what stands strong and true in the author’s life.

Here are six that have stuck with me, for different reasons.

1.    F. Scott Fitzgerald’s simple, “Once again to Zelda” in The Great Gatsby.

2.    Tim Winton’s dedications in most of his books over the decades, to his wife, Denise. Dirt Music, “Denise, Denise, Denise”, and again, in his latest book Eyrie – “For Denise – Always.”

3.    The powerful dedication of John le Carre in The Constant Gardener, to the human rights’ activist, Yvette Pierpaoli: “For Yvette Pierpaoli. Who lived and died giving a damn.”

4.    The ever thought provoking Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion. “In Memoriam: Douglas Adams (1952-2001). Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"

5.    The dry wit of Tim Winton in Land’s Edge: “For my family. And for those who know that a bad day’s fishing is always better than a good day’s work.”

6.    Possibly my favourite - Peter Temple, in Truth. “For Anita and for Nick: the lights on the hill. And for MH, whose faith has transcended reason.”

Ain’t that the truth. May we all have those in our lives that serve as lights on the hill, and who keep the faith in us when all else fails. Might we do the same for others.

See?! The book dedication – a tiny thing of surprising grace. 

Happy Monday word lovers.

*Above photo from Samantha Celera (Creative Commons license)


  1. Pia, I love how these dedications have been engraved into you mind. Dedications are something I glance at occasionally. I'll have to start paying more attention. Jo xx

    1. Thanks Jo. Sometimes they are intriguing and start jumping out at you from the page!

  2. Thank you for sharing - I always like looking at dedications and these are a lovely collection.

    1. Me too Kirsty, and these ones have stuck with me.



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