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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

His rare first book, with excellent provenance

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First edition of the author's first book, and a prize rarity in the Corvo corpus. Only two other copies have appeared at auction in over 35 years (one being the Bradley Martin copy in 1990). This fine bright copy also has a rich Corvoid provenance, sequentially owned by Christopher Sclater Millard, A. T. Bartholomew, and Robert Scoble (see below).
"The fact that it was a favourite martyrdom of poetic pederasts in Rolfe's time invites speculation, especially in view of the fact that the subject matter of Rolfe's fiction was usually coloured by homosexuality" (Miriam J. Benkovitz, Frederick Rolfe: Baron Corvo, 1977, p.11).
The provenance of this copy is evidenced in the ownership inscription, "A. T. Bartholomew, Jan. 1926, Bought of C. Millard w/o", appearing inside the front wrapper. Christopher Sclater Millard (1872-1927), who like Rolfe studied at Oxford and converted to Catholicism, was an early biographer and bibliographer of Oscar Wilde. Later in life Millard went into dealing rare books and manuscripts, and it was he 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 (1882-1933) was librarian at Cambridge University Library from 1900 until his death. He was a friend of several of the Uranian poets, and also planned a biography of Rolfe. Symons's publication, in 1926, of a piece focusing on the more scandalous aspects of Rolfe's life seems to have caused Bartholomew to abandon his project, though his scrapbook (now at the Harry Ransom Center) was used by Symons for his Quest for Corvo. The subsequent owner of this copy was Robert Scoble, Rolfe's later biographer, whose pencil ownership inscription appears 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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