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The Vortex. A Play in Three Acts; [together with:] The Marquise. A Comedy in Three Acts.

London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1925 & 1927 Stock Code: 121604
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First editions, first impressions. The Vortex premiered on 25 November 1924 at the Everyman Theatre, London, and The Marquise in 1927 at the Criterion Theatre, London.

"By the time the sensational The Vortex appeared in 1924, Coward was already a star in the making, and London was ready to be shocked. The Vortex did just that, with its tale of an older woman taking a younger lover, and her son taking cocaine (commentators have since seen the drug as a mask for homosexuality). Coward went along with the convenient myth of his overnight success in the play which quickly transferred from Hampstead to the West End (see his memoir Present Indicative); yet this was as much a construction as the idea that The Vortex was the first English production to deal with drug abuse (the story of Billie Carleton, the chorus girl who died apparently from a cocaine overdose in 1918 and whose fate inspired Coward's play, had sparked off at least three drug-themed productions in 1919). Coward may have already invented himself, but it was the fact that The Vortex cited the post-war neuroses as exemplified by 'decadent' Mayfair society; that its creator played the role of Nicky Lancaster in a dressing-gown; and that its characters called each other 'darling' in a flippant manner which established the play and its author as a central text for 1920s popular culture" (Philip Hoare in ODNB).

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2 works, octavo. Original blue cloth, printed paper labels to spines and front covers. With the dust jackets. With wraparound band for The Marquise laid-in. Housed together in custom brown quarter morocco slipcase and cloth chemise, all by James MacDonald of New York City.


Bookseller's ticket to rear pastedown. Contemporary unprinted tissue guards loosely laid-in to a few pages of The Marquise. An excellent set in the lightly toned dust jackets, a couple of marks to front panel of The Vortex.


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