FIRBANK, Ronald.

The Works.

Introduction by Arthur Waley. Biographical Memoir by Osbert Sitwell.

London & New York: Duckworth & Brentano's, 1929 Stock Code: 63370
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"That unrivalled butterfly"

First collected edition, number 33 of 235 sets. "One of Ronald Firbank's last acts before his death in 1926 was to ensure an edition of his collected works. It was a project dear to his heart. His hope - and expectation - that Brentano's would bring out such an edition was dashed by several things: Brentano's disinterest in an American issue of Caprice in spite of a new preface, their outright rejection of Cardinal Pirelli, and reluctance on the part of the London branch to make a definite commitment... Then in April 1926, his awareness of his failing health sharpened by a cold caught during a stay in Cairo, Firbank made arrangements with the Society of Authors which assured a collected edition" (Firbank). Osbert Sitwell describes Firbank memorably in his biographical memoir as "that unrivalled butterfly".

This is certainly a handsomely produced edition, attractively bound, and printed on Abbey Mills paper in a very appealing and legible type by the Westminster Press. It gathers the following works: Vainglory, Inclinations, Odette, Caprice, Valmouth, The Princess Zoubaroff, Santal, The Flower Beneath the Foot, Sorrow in Sunlight (Prancing Nigger), and Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli. The texts are those of the first editions, except for Odette, which is from the first separate illustrated edition of 1916. Two versions of chapter 4, part II, of Inclinations are printed consecutively, with the second version published here for the first time. This set, carrying the ticket of New York booksellers The Holliday Bookshop, is presumably one of 110 sets uniform with the English edition that Brentano's imported as bound copies. Terence Holliday had initially worked at Brentano's in 1919, opened his first shop in 1920 and specialised in importing English books and promoting the work of younger British and American poets and novelists. The business closed in 1951, and "after 31 years of existence, The Holliday Bookshop had become more than a bookshop, it had become an 'Institution'" (Five College Archives & Manuscript Collection).

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5 volumes, tall octavo. Original yellow buckram, titles to spines gilt, top edges green, other untrimmed.


Portrait frontispiece to each volume by Augustus John (3), Wyndham Lewis, and Charles Shannon.


Large wood-engraved bookplate of John Elliot to each pastedown, contemporary bookseller's tickets to rear pastedowns (The Holliday Bookshop, New York). Bindings a little thumbed, spines toned, foot of spine of vol. I a little frayed, cloth of back cover of vol. III bubbled, tape mark to front pastedown of vol. I, yet this remains a very good set.


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