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WOLFF, Charlotte.

Studies in Hand-Reading....

With a Preface by Aldous Huxley.

Availability: In stock

Published: London Chatto & Windus, 1936

Stock Code: 133481

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


First edition, first impression, with an excellent provenance; being from the library of renowned palmist Mir Bashir (1907-1997), with his ownership inscription from the year of publication to the front free endpaper, "Bashir, B. A., 8 Nizamiah Hotel, Hyderabad, Deccan, 19th Aug. 1936". Bashir moved from India to London in 1948, working in Glebe Place, Chelsea. There he became "possibly the best known palmist in Britain" and published his key palmistry text How to Read Hands in 1955 (Day, p. 143). In this richly illustrated work Wolff "attempts to demonstrate an unexpectedly close correlation between the detailed configuration of the hand and the outstanding traits forming the personality complex of the owner of the hands" (Schultz, p. 479). To do this she analyses the palms of numerous key contemporary creative figures, including her close friend Aldous Huxley, whom she first met in the artist's community of Sanary-sur-Mer in 1933. Huxley provides the preface to this work, and it was he and his wife Maria who persuaded a number of those figures included, such as Virginia Woolf and George Bernard Shaw, to have their hands read. Wolff noted in her autobiography that Maria, "treated my new venture as if it were her own... she devoted all her time and energy to introducing me into her and Aldous's circle" (Wolff, p. 87). In an appealing connection Bashir is known to have dined with Huxley in Los Angeles in 1956; and there is evidence that the two shared a long-standing correspondence. Wolff (1897-1986) was born in Riesenburg (now Prabuty, Poland) and studied literature and philosophy at the University of Freiburg before graduating in medicine. She then worked as a physician and psychotherapist in the predominantly under served working class districts of Berlin. In 1933 she was forced to flee Germany; she first went to Sanary-sur-Mer in Paris, and then onto London in 1936, taking British citizenship in 1947. A powerful intellectual figure Wolff continued her study of hand-reading in three further works; The Human Hand (1943), A Psychology of Gesture (1945) and The Hand in Psychological Diagnosis (1951). Wolff is also widely respected for her pioneering works on lesbianism and bisexuality; her work Bisexuality: A Study (1977) was the first serious academic study to be published on the subject, and was the result of interviews with 150 self-identified bisexuals. The present work is surprisingly uncommon, with just nine copies traced on Copac.

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Octavo. Original pink cloth, titles and pentangle device to spine in gilt, top edge red, bottom edge untrimmed.


Portrait frontispiece of the author from a photograph by Man Ray, and 62 other plates of palm-prints, with schematised reading diagrams to the text.


Spine minimally cocked and toned, rear board a little bowed, slight touch of wear to tips, small indent to fore edge of rear board, light fading to cloth, a little soiling to book block edge; nevertheless a very good copy.


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