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WALLER, John (ed.)

Bolero: A Magazine of Poetry.

Published: Oxford: Worcester College, 1938-39

Stock code: 106663

Price: £475

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First edition, first impression, inscribed on each drop-head title by the editor, John Waller, and with a note (dated “Sept 67”) in issue 2: “Apart from ‘New Base’ (?) this was the first magazine to publish Keith Douglas and Norman Nicholson”. Very scarce: Copac records only one complete set in British and Irish institutional libraries, at the BL (there are two incomplete sets: Trinity College Dublin and Manchester), OCLC adds only the set at the Pierpont Morgan Library. “After the two years of Surrealism’s demise in England, the Auden generation’s next flagship journal, Oxford Poetry, collapsed as well and was replaced by John Waller’s Bolero… [it] began in the summer of 1938… and it lasted until the spring of 1939, at which point it was replaced… by Kingdom Come” (James Gifford, Personal Modernisms: Anarchist Networks and the Later Avant-Garde, 2014). The most distinguished contributors to Bolero were Norman Nicholson and Keith Douglas, who, in 1938, won a scholarship to Merton College, Oxford, but was tragically killed in Normandy in 1944, robbing “English literature – as had Owen’s death in 1918 – of the most individual and accomplished poet of his generation” (Jon Stallworthy in ODNB).

3 parts (all published), octavo. Original wrappers, stapled as issued, lettered in black on front cover (the cover illustration bears a close resemblance to Kurt Hutton’s iconic image of an unemployed man, photographed in 1930s Wigan and published in Picture Post 1939). Staples rusted (with concomitant minor staining). An excellent set, with the errata slip pasted into part 3.

Bibliography: Not in British Literary Magazines: The Modern Age, 1914-1984.

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