Black Mischief.London: Chapman and Hall, 1932 Stock Code: 123779
One of two dedication copiesFirst edition, large paper issue, out of series from 250 numbered copies, the dedication copy to Mary Lygon, inscribed by the author on the limitation page: "For Sweet Blondy with much love from BOAZ housed within swastika device". The book was dedicated to Mary and her sister Dorothy Lygon. Although known to her friends as Maimie, Lady Mary Lygon was fondly nicknamed 'Blondy' by Waugh.
Waugh met Mary's brother Hugh Lygon, second son of the Earl Beauchamp, at Oxford and, rather like Charles Ryder in Brideshead, not only formed a close friendship (cut short by Lygon's death in 1936), but fell in love with the aristocratic pleasure garden of privilege and hedonism which the Lygons appeared to inhabit. He was invited to Christmas at Madresfield, the Lygon's Worcestershire estate, in 1931. He had already met the younger Lygon sisters, Mary and Dorothy, and was much taken with them, particularly Mary, the older by two years, who was blonde and beautiful: still very much a bright young thing and soon to be drawn into the fast set. Dorothy was plain and bespectacled. The parallels between the three Lygons and the Marchmains, both individually and as a family unit, are striking.
Being of no fixed abode, Waugh came to spend much of the next year at Madresfield. Dorothy Lygon recalls Waugh writing "slowly and reluctantly a great deal of Black Mischief while staying with us, groaning loudly as he shut himself away... for a few hours every day". The Lygon girls "hindered more than they helped, having no qualms about disturbing him and dragging him away to join them in whatever was going on" - Paula Byrne (Mad World). Despite all the distractions, he completed Black Mischief while at Madresfield and dedicated it to the sisters. He also used the girls and other house guests as models for his illustrations included in the large-paper edition.
Octavo. Original purple cloth, gilt, spine lettered in gilt, top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Housed in a red quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.
Frontispiece and 7 full-page illustrations by the author, none of which appear in the trade edition, plus a map.
A good copy with some fading to the spine and edges of the boards, minor wear to the spine ends and lower corners, creasing to a few pages.
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