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ROLFE, Frederick William, Baron Corvo.

Tarcissus: The Boy Martyr of Rome,

In the Diocletian Persecution, A.D. CCCIII.

[Saffron Walden: Arthur Boardman,] 1880 Stock Code: 139376
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His rare first book, with excellent provenance

First edition of the author's first book, a prize rarity in the Corvo corpus, this copy with a richly appropriate provenance: from the libraries of Christopher Millard, A. T. Bartholomew, and Robert Scoble. Only two other copies of this title have appeared at auction in over 35 years, one the Bradley Martin copy in 1990.

The copy is inscribed inside the front wrapper "A. T. Bartholomew, Jan. 1926, Bought of C. Millard w/o". Like Rolfe, Christopher Sclater Millard (18721927) studied at Oxford and converted to Catholicism. Writing as Stuart Mason, he was an early biographer and bibliographer of Oscar Wilde, before turning to dealing in rare books and manuscripts. It was Millard who first mentioned Rolfe's Hadrian the Seventh to A. J. A. Symons, precipitating the eventual writing of The Quest for Corvo (1934).

Augustus Theodore Bartholomew (18821933) was Cambridge University librarian from 1900 until his death. He was a friend of several of the Uranian poets and planned a biography of Rolfe. In 1926 Symons's publication of a piece focusing on scandalous aspects of Rolfe's life seems to have caused Bartholomew to abandon his project; Symons made use of Bartholomew's scrapbook (now at the Harry Ransom Center) for his Quest for Corvo. The copy latterly belonged to Robert Scoble, author of The Corvo Cult: The History of an Obsession (2014); his pencilled ownership inscription is inside the front cover of the chemise.

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Sextodecimo. Original grey card wrappers printed in black. Housed in a blue cloth chemise with gilt titles to spine.


Small mark to front wrapper not affecting text, otherwise a fine bright copy.


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