SYKES, Christopher.

Changed: Being an Account of a Voyage in Modern Persia.

With illustrations by Christopher and Angela Sykes. [Proof copy, together with a copy of the privately printed edition.]

London: [printed for Cobden-Sanderson,] at the Camelot Press, Southampton, 1932 Stock Code: 125846
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Unique proof copy of Sykes's first book, the author's own copy with his autograph corrections in pencil throughout, together with a rare copy of the privately printed first edition.

The changes appear not to have been implemented in the published edition, but instead show the author making notes for an unrealised future edition, with a system of notations for such ideas as "I shall never do this again", "I shall develop here", or simply "O.K." The marginal notes range from "This scene is excellent" and "How true", to "grammar o god" and "pooh what rot".

As well as the absence of page numbers to the contents and the absence of illustrations, one difference between the proof and the published version is that the proof bears the imprint of Cobden-Sanderson, excised in the latter.

The proof copy has the bookplate of George Harwood, friend and contemporary of Sykes and Peter Fleming at Christ Church, Oxford, also an acquaintance of Robert Byron. It seems likely that Sykes, when finished with the volume, passed it to his friend who had it bound with the original proof wrappers preserved.

Christopher Sykes (1907-1986), whose father had helped found the Arab Bureau with T. E. Lawrence and signed the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, took a course in Persian studies at the School of Oriental Studies, London. He later became honorary attaché at the British Legation in Tehran, 1930-31. The book describes two journeys, from Yazd to Shiraz, and from Shiraz to Isfahan, undertaken in the latter half of 1931. He later spent two years travelling in Persia and Afghanistan with Robert Byron, an adventure captured in Byron's The Road to Oxiana (1937). Partly due to his evident disgust at his own writing style, and partly due to realising that his remarks critical of the Shah would make it impossible for him to return to Persia, Sykes suppressed the book before publication, and instead had a very small number of copies privately printed.

The book is rare, with no copy in the British Library, Library Hub locating a National Trust copy only in Britain (at Sissinghurst, inscribed to Harold Nicolson) and WorldCat locating only the copy (inscribed to an aunt) at the Harry Ransom collection, University of Texas, Austin.

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Together 2 items, octavo. Proof copy in near-contemporary orange morocco by Riviere & Son, with the original proof wrappers bound in, spine in compartments with raised bands and gilt titles, top edge gilt, the published version printed on thicker paper, in the original black cloth, with titles to spine gilt and fore and bottom edges untrimmed.


Proof unillustrated; published version with black and white frontispiece and 15 other plates.


Both in excellent condition, spine of the proof copy sunned.


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