8vo., pp. 156; a fine copy in the publisher’s maroon cloth, upper board blocked in black and gilt with an elaborate design by Florence Claxton, lower board blocked in blind; corners slightly bumped; dedicatory inscription to title-page ‘To the authoress of “Serious Letters to Serious Friends”, with the sincere regards of Mr W. H. Harrison Oct. 5th 1877.
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The lazy Lays, and Prose Imaginings …
First edition, a presentation copy, of this eccentric collection of verse and prose by the photographer, spiritualist and journalist William Henry Harrison.
Harrison was a regular contributor to the British Journal of Photography, and several pieces here evidence his passion. For photography. ‘The Lay of the Photographer’ is a mock heroic describing the preparation of photographic plates, with the important chemicals personified as the elegant Bromide, the adventurous young Pyroxyline etc. Harrison claimed to have invented a bromide emulsion dry plate, and the poem touts the superiority of his process: if you mention the outmoded iodine method to a photographer, he is liable to ‘shriek and turn pallid with fear’. A second piece in an orientalist mdoe, ‘How Hadji Al Shacabac was Photographed’, describes his visit to a mysterious wizard skilled in the art of instantly producing pictures of people with the aid of a small ‘cannon’.
The other pieces include verse in praise of a ‘Broad-Brimmed Hat’, as well as the imagined lamentations of a ‘Fat Man’ and a ‘Mother-in-Law’. The prose story ‘Our Raven’ describes the author’s trials as the hands (or claws) of a demonically possessed Raven with a passion for gardening. Other more serious essays include ‘How to double the Utility of the Printing Press’ and ‘Materialistic Religion’.
The elaborate cover design by by Florence Claxton depicts a griffin, accompanied by a rather disgruntled pelican-like bird holding a pen in its beak. A prefatory note explains that the choice of a griffin emblem for the front of the book is a reference to the monster that protected its treasure from ‘the one eyes Arimaspians’: this griffin, apparently, guards the book from opportunistic American publishers; the pelican, perhaps, represents the author.
William Henry Harrison was notable for his close involvement in the nineteenth-century craze for spiritualism. He was the founder of the Spiritualist Newspaper, and later of the British National Association of Spiritualists. Marie Sinclair, the ‘authoress of “Serious Letters to serious Friends”, to whom this book is inscribed was vice-president of the Association. Her Letters on a serious Subject to serious Friends (1875) was an ambitious attempt to reconcile theosophy, spiritualism, and Catholicism.
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LAWRENCE, Thomas Edward.
The Mint. A Day-Book of the R.A.F. Depot between August and December 1922 with Later Notes, by 352087 A/c Ross. Edited by A.W. Lawrence.
First British edition, the trade issue. 'One of Lawrence’s avowed purposes in joining the RAF, though not the only one, was to write of the ranks from the inside. He began immediately making notes when he enlisted in 1922. With his dismissal in January 1923, because of unfavourable publicity, the project was set aside, not to be taken up again until he was posted to India in 1927 [...] While in India he edited the text of his earlier notes and began revisions. In March 1928 he sent a clean copy of the revised text to Edward Garnett. Garnett had copies typed which were circulated to a small circle, among them Air Marshal Trenchard [...] Trenchard’s concerned response led Lawrence to guarantee that it would not be published at least until 1950. Later revisions were made by Lawrence in the last months of his life with a possible view to publication in a private edition on a handpress' (O’Brien, pp. 119-120). Although an American edition was printed in 1936 to forestall a possible piracy, the present edition was printed from a later, revised version of the text and the type was set up by Cape in 1948. However, publication was delayed until 1955, when an officer described unfavourably by Lawrence died. The British edition appeared in two issues: the limited issue and the present trade issue 'which had all objectionable words lifted out of the text, leaving blank spaces' (loc. cit.).
The Works, in Verse and Prose… in three Volumes … Fifth Edition …
Fifth edition of the Works (1764), the first edition of which was planned by Shenstone but published after his death, with Robert Dodsley’s description of Shenstone’s important garden at The Leasowes, one of the first natural landscape gardens in England and one of the most influential, and with the third volumes of letters added in 1769.