Keep the Aspidistra Flying.
First edition, first impression. Signed by the author for fellow novelist Anthony Powell, “Geo. Orwell” on the front endpaper, with Powell’s bookplate to the front pastedown. The first edition consisted of 3,000 sets of sheets of which only 2,500 were bound. Of these more than 200 were destroyed during the war. The book which “would eventually produce one of his [Orwell’s] most substantial adult friendships” (Taylor – Orwell The Life). Powell recalls buying this book and the friendship with Orwell which followed in the first volume of his autobiography, Infants of the Spring (1976). “When Down and Out in Paris and London appeared in 1933, someone recommended it,… I read the book, and was impressed by its savagery and gloom. At the same time, I cannot claim to have immediately marked down Orwell as a writer of whom one would obviously hear more. However, a year or two later, when I saw a copy of Keep the Aspidistra Flying in a secondhand bookshop, I bought it. Again, I liked the novel for its violent feelings and presentation of a young man at the end of his tether, rather than for its form or style, which seemed strangely old fashioned in treatment… I spoke of the book dining with Cyril Connolly. Connolly then told me Orwell was one of his oldest friends… He urged me to write a fan letter. This I did, thereby making my first Orwell contact, in 1936” Powell included a copy of his recently self published Caledonia, and received a friendly, if hesitant reply from Orwell. It was not until some five years later that they met in person, whereafter they would meet and correspond regularly for the remainder of Orwell’s life. An exceptional association copy. George Orwell was a parsimonious signer of his books and signed copies of his early novels especially are uncommon.
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Octavo. Original blue cloth, titles to spine in blue. With the dust jacket. A very good copy, light soiling with a little wear to the spine ends and rear joint and the faint remains of a Boots label to the front cover.