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The Rainbow.
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The Rainbow.

Published: London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1915

Stock code: 87586

Price: £1,250

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition, first impression. Methuen published The Rainbow in September 1915, but quickly withdrew it from sale in the face of almost universally hostile reviews and impending prosecution. At Bow Street magistrates’ court on 13 November it was banned as obscene, with the result that half of the print run of 1250 copies was destroyed. This copy may have survived as it was a presentation copy, as indicated by the ink stamp on its title page. Tipped-in on the rear pastedown is a contemporary account, from the Times on November 15, 1915, of the court order that the print run be destroyed, with the police commissioner responsible reporting that, “The book in question was a mass of obscenity of thought, idea, and action throughout, wrapped up in language which he supposed would be regarded in some quarters as an artistic and intellectual effort, and he was at a loss to explain how Messrs. Methuen had come to lend their name to its publication”.

Octavo. Original turquoise cloth, titles to spine gilt and to upper board in blind. “Presentation copy” ink stamp to title, ownership inscription erased from front free endpaper, 1960 gift inscription to front free endpaper. Contemporary newspaper account of the book’s suppression tipped-in to rear pastedown. Very lightly rubbed at extremities, corners a little bumped, some spotting to edges of text block, endpapers, and occasionally to contents, title page partially browned from inserted bookmark. A very good copy.

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