Saturday, January 31, 2009

Harvey Milk, The Castro, The 70s...

The good people over at EastVillageBoys have posted, to coincide with the release of the film Milk, an amazing photo-essay by Dan Nicoletta, photographer and friend of Harvey Milk. It's well worth a look as a record of a time now gone but not forgotten.

Holywell Again

At a postcard fair today from about 10.30 till 2.00 and have come away with that crick in the neck indicative of too long spent with head bowed into a pile of cards as you flick through... But among other things I was happy to find these two cards, both dating from 1910. One of Holywell and one of the Calvary above Pantasaph Friary which Rolfe once offered to clean in return for his food and lodging with the Friars. Both of these are only a decade after Rolfe's time.

Friday, January 30, 2009

St Tarsicius

Because of Frederick Rolfe's first, early publicaton of his poem Tarcissus the Boy Martyr of Rome, (which I republished in 2006), I have had an interest in Saint Tarsicius (a prefered spelling) ever since. He pops up on this blog from time to time and so when I saw this little curio I thought I should have it. Published in the 1920s, this is a copy of two mystery plays written for children by Fr. H. Gaffney O.P. It rejoices in one of the best publishers imprints I think I've ever seen: 'Office of the Irish Rosary'. There is one play for boys, 'St Tarcisius' and one for girls, 'Imelda' and at the back it tells us that they were first performed at the Theatre Royal in Dublin on the first centenery of the beatification of the Blessed Imelda Lambertini and that they were performed by the boys of the Altar Soldality of St Saviour's Dublin, and the girls of the Dominican College. Wonderful little thing...

The Water Babies

The Water Babies is a book which has some long held resonances for me, it is also a book which people collect in its various editions and, more importantly, with its various illustrators. So if I see a copy in decent nick for a decent price I like to pick it up. At the same place in which I found the William Scott illustrated Soldiers' Verses - currently on Ebay - I also found the copy of The Water Babies from which these sample illustrations are scanned by A. E. Jackson.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Attack on St Winefride's Well

Now, I don't want anyone getting over-excited(!). This isn't published yet, but I have now made the first copy of my edition of The Attack on St Winefride's Well by Frederick Rolfe, one of the rarest of rare items and one which, perhaps surprisingly, has never been republished. It seems like it's been a million years in the preparation so it's lovely to finally have a proof copy sitting in front of me.

Actually, I'm quite proud of the whole thing. It contains, not just the text of The Attack but also the full text of two letters by Rolfe to newspapers which also haven't been reprinted since the 1890s as well as an unpublished photo which I believe it of Rolfe at the Shrine in Holywell. There is a long introduction which, I hope, elucidates some of the context for The Attack and Rolfe's last months in the town. It is that introduction which has taken the time really: months of work at home and in the British Library.

My supplier tells me that they don't have the paper I use in stock at the moment and it will have to be ordered, which might mean it's going to be about a fortnight or three weeks before I can anounce this as available to buy.

This seems a good time to mention that fact that if anyone visiting here would like to receive the occasional email about new titles from Callum James Books, they should just drop me a note to that effect at

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

More Penguin Poets

Another of The Penguin Poets series with their gorgeous patterned covers which came my way recently. Number 71 in the series but only number 11 on my bookshelf.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


All the research and layout work on my edition of The Attack on St Winefride's Well is now done and I'm about to start the physical part of creating a new book. A while ago I wrote about the beautiful hand-printed patterned paper I'd found and this is going to be what's on the boards of the new book. But for the spine, instead of my normal paper covered spines I thought I would try using some buckram for the first time. To anyone familiar with book binding, I'm sure that this seems like a minor trifle but I have always had something of a mental block about using cloth and I've never attempted it before. So, I have found some blue buckram and spent a while today making a little notebook with some scraps of marbled paper and the buckram on the spine. It turns out it's much easier to use than paper and I'm pretty okay with the result too.

William Scott Lithographs

Soldiers' Verse
Chosen by Patric Dickinson
Lithographs by William Scott
Frederick Muller Ltd., London, 1945

This was today's find. A rather disreputable looking copy, dirty, ex-library, written-in, loose binding and a musty smell. But just look at those lithographs! Although they all have a small library ink stamp on the verso, only one has any kind of damage and that's almost unoticable. They are so wonderfully evocative, brooding, and melancholy. The thick black is either dynamic in an evil, opressive kind of way or, in the stiller images, overwhelmingly sad.

I hardly need say anything about Scott here because the website of the William Scott Foundation is so wonderfully easy to use and wide-ranging that I only need direct you there.

The book itself cost me £2, sad and unloved little creature that it is. Truthfully, whilst I rarely say this of any book, it is in such bad condition that it's only real value is for breaking. All I have to decide is whether I am going to do that myself or sell it on for someone else to do. In any better condition it would be quite a worthwhile book retailing for anywhere between £80 and, in very good condition, £250.

Anyway, I liked these enough to invest the time in scanning them all and loading them to Flickr where you can go see them should you wish.

William Stobbs - Gianni and the Ogre

I do love a good bit of 1960s/70s childrens' book illustration and a dealer friend, knowing this, recently gave me a slightly mouldy copy of Gianni and the Ogre by Ruth Manning Sanders, not so much for the stories but for the illustrations by William Stobbs. I've picked 5 (which is the maximum number of pictures blogger will cope with in one post) but I could happily have shared all of the pictures in the book.

Stobbs was, like many working illustrators, also a teacher in art colleges, including the London College of Printing. His list of titles illustrated is quite impressive. Wikipedia tells us just a tiny bit more. And for those who like the striking character of the pictures above and would like to see more then there are few to find through Google and a very few at Flickr.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Poems and Stations and Clive Hicks-Jenkins Artwork

I've written here before about my enjoyment and engagement with the art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins. A number of creative sparks have flown between us from time to time in the last couple of years, although we have never actually met!

I've written before about the poem I wrote in response to his hagiographical paintings of Herve and his Dog but Clive is in the final stages of having his website revamped and its very cool that I have my very own page there. Clive continues to post the Herve poem but also now there are some Stations of the Cross I once wrote for liturgical use which Clive has married up to his series of huge works on the theme of the Mari Lywd legend and custom (use he tabs on the page to move between them). Clive has used just three of the stations: back in 2007 I posted all fourteen, along with the someone else's artwork (!) in blog format. You have to click on 'older posts' at the bottom of the first page if you want to read all of them.

Drag Kings: Miss Hetty King!

Thank you to those who took the trouble to comment on my post below about Bronko and Bosko, the consensus being that they are two women in drag. The ever-resourceful R went digging around and thinks that he may have found a candidate for the lady on the left of the original picture, the appropriately named Miss Hetty King!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


This is a book to enjoy that's recently come into my hands. William Johnson, later William Cory was an assistant master at Eton in the early ninteteenth century. Apt to make favourites, he surrounded himself with a coterie and had an eye for the budding poet. Among his pupils, a number went on to become significant men of letters. Cory fell foul of a changing atmosphere in the larger public schools and, due to his close friendships among the boys he was removed from his post by the headmaster, Dr Hornby. Cory never recovered from the blow.

Ionica was first published in 1858 by Smith Elder and, with the addition of a series of new poems, Ionica II, it was republished in 1890 [dated 1891], bound in the light blue cloth of Eton colours. The poems are fairly typical of a rather sentimental but classically minded schoolmaster of the time and include many which are sentimental reflections on his relationships with a number of young men. For all this, he is by no means a bad poet of his time. These first two editions of Ionica were published anonymously and it wasn't until 1905 that Ionica was published with its author's name attatched and, on that occasion, with a memoir and preface by A. C. Benson. It was this 1905 edition in particular which popularised and made Cory's poetry widely known.

This copy is the later issue of the 1890 [1891] edition, in which corrections were made in the text and not by means of an errata, and whilst not exactly an association copy is padded out with a nice set of personalities on the endpapers. The note written on the half-title reads, "By William Cory, M. A. formerly William Johnson, one of the Assistant Masters at Eton. I was "up to him" when I first went to Eton in April 1846. R. M-T"

And then on the front endpaper R. M-T identifies himself with an ownership inscription "Robert Marsham-Townshend Nov 20. 1893." RMT was born simply Robert Marsham, son of the 2nd Earl of Romney. He adopted the Townshend in 1893 through his connections with another noble household. RMT was a prolific explorer, geologist and antiquary. I have found an anonymous auction catalogue on the internet listing some 16 vols (some 2,500 pages) of his unpublished journals, from 1853-76 and the list of places he visited covers pretty much the known world. Sadly the auction catalogue quoted gave no details of where, when or for how much these were sold. RMT was attache at the British Legation in 1857 and seems to have just about favoured South America in his travels.

The other enjoyable personality item about this book is the bookplate of Kenneth Newton Colvile, a minor writer (Fame's Twilight: Studies of Nine Men of Letters), whose bookplate I found described in someone else's book catalogue, thus:

"...a hybridised grotesquerie with the slavering head of Shakespeare and the body of a (?) ; front paw upraised, tail outstretched behind & legs like cricket pads upon a sledge containing the uneaten remains of Marlowe..."

I do enjoy books like this, with a visible history...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pretty Boys or Drag Kings

Among a lot of other photos bought the other day are three real photo postcards, one of which shows two 'men' together the other two, the top photo above are the same and show the close up of one of the 'guys'. There are three things written on the back of the photos, one each. They are: "Broncko & Bosko September 1914", "The Only Little Girl I Loved", and "Proof for Half Tone South London Press".

I confess I am at a loss. I keep looking and looking at these and can't make up my mind if they are women in drag (not uncommon at the turn of the century for various cabaret and music-hall turns), or boys dressed up to the nines, presumably also performers. R and I disagree. If you'd like to leave even an anonymous comment on this post to say which you think it'd be fun to see which way people lean.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Frederick Rolfe Painting

Perhaps a little late to be topical but this is a painting by Rolfe which was used by Donald Weeks on his 1974 Christmas card. Weeks, with a typical understatement of any useful detail, simply captions it as 'unrecorded painting by Rolfe c. 1889'.

Although the reproduction on Weeks's card is poor I think it shows that Rolfe wasn't at all bad as a naif painter. His figure work was always rather wobbly but the decoration on the fabrics of the angels' tunics in particular and the lovely renaissance-style foliage in front of the crib strike me as rather lovely.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Arrived today...

...these rather smart new business cards featuring my six volume set of Swinburne's poems.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

William Paine - Anderson: Erotic Socialism II

In a previous post, I was being puzzled by a question about the authorship of some books. William Paine, described in the catalogue of the British Library as 'a writer on social issues', published two books Shop Slavery and Emancipation (P. S. King, London, 1912), with an introduction by H. G. Wells, and The New Aristocracy (Leonard Parsons, London, 1920).

These two books have been known in gay book circles (if there are indeed such circles) because they include appeals for the oppression of shop workers to be broken by a radical new form of love between men. More than that, both books include a thinly veiled description of a gay affair between Paine and a young man (six years Paine's junior) which is described in achingly beautiful passages. This is a man after Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter's hearts. He is attempting to lay out a form of 'erotic socialism'.

The previous post delineates why I was a little confused. Briefly, there are two other publications with very similar titles that Paine references in the preface to his Shop Slavery - extremely similar titles but different authors. I have now been able to examine those, The Servitude of the Shop by William C. Anderson (NAUSWC, London [printed at Manchester], 1907 second edition) and The Counter Exposed by Will Anderson (Klene & Co., London, 1896) and can confirm that Anderson and Paine are the same person. Shop Slavery and Emancipation in particular includes large tracts which were simply rewritten in slightly enlarged form to create The Counter Exposed. Also, the biographical stories and anecdotes told by Paine and Anderson are the same.

It is strange that although all his books, with the exception of the NAUSWC pamphlet, contain lots of biographical detail, it is all rather vague and not anchored, as it were, to any points of reference. Its not easy to feel that one knows who Anderson-Paine is.

In The New Aristocracy Paine talks about his first experience of meeting a member of the 'old' aristocracy. He habitually stayed in a cottage on an estate for six or seven weeks of the summer, he talks of a local cleric, the brother of the Marquess of Bristol whose estate it was, who Paine met at the age of seven and when Paine was nine, the cleric was made the Bishop of Bath and Wells. This internal evidence has allowed me to date Paine's birth to circa 1860 as the Bishop concerned was the Rt Rev'd Lord Arthur Charles Hervey (1808-1894) who was consecrated in 1869. Not quite the Baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells* but, we are told, "He was a revelation to me, and he came to see me nearly every day... Generally he stayed about half-an-hour, and always he took me on his knee. I remember a certain look of delight on his face when we were left alone together; I remember even that his voice was different then - that it had a hush in it and a more intimate tone, as if it were a relief to him to put his years and his greatness aside and become a child again with me."

This, is the anchor point I've been looking for. Knowing Anderson-Paine's date of birth means that I can begin piecing together the other biographical details he gives away in the book - and many of them are falling together nicely. The Marquess of Bristol's estate, for example, was the village of Ickworth in Suffolk and I have tracked down some evidence which connects both the name Paine and Anderson to the village. I'm haven't quite nailed him down yet - I still don't know exactly why he went by both Anderson and Paine, nor have I found his family - but I'm getting there. I would love to uncover the name of his boyfriend too but the evidence there is extremely scant from the text so I am not holding my breath on that one.

I'm sure there'll be more to come on this chap.

*If you don't understand the reference then you don't watch enough British comedy!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Barnett Freedman Number Three

Some things I have set out to collect and other things have grabbed my interest but there is a cartagory of things (books in my case) which become a small collection not because you are looking for them but because you simply keep stumbling across them. Which isn't to say that I don't very mugh like these jackets by Barnett Freedman. Credit where credit it due: R found this one.

More Religion

I notice there's been a fair amount of religious imagery in this blog of late, so why buck the trend. I might not have bought this pen and ink drawing today if it hadn't been for the fact that the seller had clearly assumed it was a print and priced it accordingly. Sadly, there's no signature nor initials but it's a pretty accomplished piece of drawing.

Willard Price from Lewis

It was a good day today. Possibly the last day when it's going to feel much like it's still the holiday season - in fact, it's twelfth night, so that figures I suppose. R and I spent a briskly cold but sunny day in Lewis which is a picturesque Sussex town just East of Brighton and pretty well stocked with antique shops. (It also has the most amazing cafe called Bill's, there's another one in Brighton, which just makes the most amazing food) So, among other things I found a couple of books by Willard Price. One was a copy of Innocents in Britain (Heinemann, 1958) in which Willard and Wife take a turn around the UK, including a spot of canoeing on the Thames! The second was a paperback reading copy of Diving Adventure in which nineteen-year-old Hal Hunt and his fourteen year old brother Roger go and live with Dr Dick in an underwater village, play around in a minisub called Deepboat and make friends with a Dolphin called Big Boy - I kid you not!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Pier Roberto Giannelli

A very nice guy, with a very sexy-sounding name, was in touch with me recently. He writes some great poetry, much of it with a gay sensibility. He's just begun a blog which, as with all new blogs, needs a little bit of support so I'm hereby encouraging you to pop over and read a couple of his poems.

Normally this kind of link would go in the link list on the right but, as a number of people have pointed out to me recently, that list has become a little old and dated and needs sorting through; it doesn't really represent the places I hang out like it used to. It's on my New Year Resolution list to do it.

Rickshaw Cutie

My interest in vintage photography does stretch beyond the pretty young things in bathing costumes - honest! It's just that it seems to be those that I end up sharing most easily here. And no, I haven't forgotten my promise over Christmas to create a new vintage swim post. However, for the time being, this rather lovely gentleman came up when I was digging around albumen prints on ebay and I thought he might be appreciated here.

Ninian Comper and Stained Glass

My previous post took me the photos of Simon_K and his enormous haul of photos of England's Eastern counties. I was reminded in doing so of two interests of mine that come together in some of his beautiful photos.

Stained glass is one of those art forms, a little like marble sculpture, to which I came late. For a long while both were simply things I walked past or ignored on the assumption that I knew they didn't do anything for me at all. And then, as I've related elsewhere, suddenly you take another look and something clicks. I don't know anything about stained glass, I wish I did. It would be wonderful to be able to confidently point at some and know which century even it was created in. However, I do know the work of Ninian Comper (my second interest in Simon_K's photos) because he's photographed a number of Comper churches. Comper was one of the great church architects and craftsmen of the late nineteenth, early twentieth centuries, a great man of the gothic revival... some say he's all kitsch and Victorian Aryan Christianity... but there is much more there, I think, a delicacy, an innocence and a real sense of beauty as in these examples above.

Friday, January 02, 2009

William of Norwich Saga... continued...

For those of you interested enough to want to catch up with the slowly unravelling story of a book by Frederick Rolfe that was never published then you should start with my first post on the subject. This had to be followed up by another post when Mark Valentine, guru of all things literary, and editor of the inestimable Wormwood magazine, wrote with a little more information. Then another contact told me about a short analysis of the poem so I felt I should direct my readers there in a third post.

Mark has recently uncovered a previously unrecorded short story by Saki and so it seems that he's in the mood for literary detection. He wrote again recently, passing on the theory of Rosemary Pardoe, editor of the hugely respected Ghosts and Scholars M R James Newsletter about why Rolfe's version of the life of William of Norwich might have foundered before the presses. She points out that in 1890, the year Rolfe's book was due out, M. R. James discovered in a "small dank building" in the churchyard in Brent Eliegh in Suffolk, the earliest known life of the saint, a twelfth century manuscript by Thomas of Monmouth. Such a discovery would have superseded all other work on the subject and James was the one in possession of the manuscript, the purchase of which by Cambridge University he had overseen. Certainly in the list of accounts of the life of William in the prospectus for Rolfe's book, Thomas of Monmouth isn't mentioned.

James got together with another well known medievalist Augustus Jessopp to work on the manuscript and they produced a scholarly edition of the text in 1896. Their edition does, as Rolfe's promised to do, reproduce all four known medieval depictions of the saint including the one above from a screen in the Suffolk church of St Peter and Paul, Eye*. A little more digging reveals that Jessopp published an article on William in The Nineteenth Century of May 1893, and whilst I haven't laid hands on a copy yet it seems likely that this article would in some way relate to the Monmouth manuscript.

Whilst it is only a theory still, I can't see anything wrong with the idea that this discovery was the thing which scuppered Rolfe's plan, with Elkin Matthews and John Lane, to publish a life of William. Of course, tantalisingly, if this theory were correct it would add weight to the notion that Rolfe's book was actually written... However, it doesn't help with my fundamental question which I raised at the end of my first post on the subject, which is why doesn't Rolfe ever, to my knowledge, mention or speak or write about this book ever again?

*photo was mercilessly nicked from the Suffolk Churches set on Flickr by Simon_K whose photos are well worth going to explore.
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