Friday, November 30, 2012

Where Childrens Books Were Sold

by Stephen J. Gertz

Premises of John Harris, formerly of John Newbery, 1770 forward.

Tabart & Co, 1800 forward.

From a book published by A.K. Newman in 1829.

Stall at a fair, c. 1878.

All images and captions, including headline, from English Children's Books 1600 to 1900 by Percy Muir (1954).

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Heartbreaking Marilyn Monroe Letter Estimated At $30,000-$50,000

by Stephen J. Gertz

On December 18, 2012, auction house Profiles in History is offering an extremely poignant, rich and revealing, aching and intriguing two-page letter signed by Marilyn Monroe. Undated but written c.1954-55 and composed in her own hand on Waldorf-Astoria stationary, it provides an intimate peek into the troubled soul of Hollywood's most enduring and legendary sex symbol. This extraordinary letter is estimated to sell  for $30,000-$50,000.

In 1954, Marilyn Monroe fled Hollywood for New York City to study at The Actors Studio, sub-leasing an apartment at the Waldorf-Astoria for the duration. There she was reintroduced to playwright Arthur Miller, whom she'd originally met in 1950, and they began to date. Her neighbor in New York, Brooklyn-born playwright, poet, and novelist Norman Rosten, to whom the letter is addressed, was a friend of Miller's; Rosten and his wife, Hedda, became close to Marilyn after Miller introduced them.

By the mid-1950s Monroe's use of alcohol and prescription drugs began to get out of control in concert with her struggle with chronic depression.

With its many cross-outs, corrections, and sloppy and confused handwriting it is not unreasonable to strongly suspect that Marilyn was intoxicated when she wrote the letter.

It reads in full:

Dear Norman,

It feels a little funny to be writing the name Norman since my own name is Norma and it feels like I’m writing my own name almost, However—

First, thanks for letting Sam [photographer and MM confidant Sam Shaw] and me visit you and Hedda last Saturday. It was nice. I enjoyed meeting your wife – she seemed so warm to me. Thanks the most for your book of poetry—with which I spent all Sunday morning in bed with. It touched me – I use to think if I had ever had a child I would have wanted only a son, but after reading - Songs for Patricia [Simon and Schuster, 1951] – I know I would have loved a little girl just as much but maybe the former feeling was only Freudian for something…anyway Frued [sic]

I use to write poetry sometimes but usually I was very depressed at those times and the few (about two) people said that it depressed them, in fact one cried but it was an old friend I’d known for years. So anyway thanks. And my best to Hedda & Patricia and you— 

Marilyn M.

Monroe's mention in the letter of her desire to bear a child was a tragically unfulfilled dream. After her marriage to Miller in 1956 she suffered a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy followed shortly thereafter while she was living in a farmhouse in Amagansett, New York. It was at this time, in 1957, that her abuse of drugs and alcohol accelerated: Rosten received a call one night that year from Monroe’s maid in the middle of the night. When Rosten rushed over, Monroe had overdosed and her stomach was being pumped.

This letter was professionally washed resulting in a slight bleeding of the ink, the inadvertent effect of which dramatically heightens the content. It's as if she used a fountain pen filled with black tears.

Images courtesy of Profiles in History, with our thanks.

Of related interest: Marilyn Monroe: Avid Reader & Book Collector.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bibliodeath: The Writing's On The Wall And All Over The Place

by Stephen J. Gertz

Cover detail from Dürer's Apocalypse depicting
St. John devouring the Book (1498)

Andrei Codrescu's new book, Bibliodeath, published this week by Antibookclub, is an extended essay with footnotes longer (it seems) than the text they amplify, dealing with what its rear wrapper blurb describes as the "techno-evolution...often decried as the death knell of the written word."

Bibliodeath, it turns out, has little to do with the digital revolution and the demise of the printed codex as its title suggests. It is, rather, one writer's  memoir of writing, "a suspenseful meditation planted in a bed of alluring stories-cum-footnotes," as the rear cover blurb continues. But there is nothing suspenseful about this entree on salad. With the digital revolution there is more writing - for better or worse - than ever before. We already know that the written word is safe. Codrescu, a prolific  writer, has written an essay to counter a false proposition. It seems as if he wanted to write a memoir of writing and needed a contextual framework. But the framework is a weak and feels contrived.

The written word is in no danger as long as Codrescu is slinging a pen or banging a keyboard. As long as Codrescu writes the written word is in no danger of extinction as Codrescu demonstrates in this all over the place essay in search of a writer, Codrescu, his roots, development, and evolution as a writer as the world passes from the print to the digital age. Bibliodeath is an autobiographical olio of a writer's life from Romania, to Rome, New York, New Orleans; a writer of the world, his own.

Left with simply a memoir, then, what Andrei Codrescu has done is less than the archiving of himself as he suggests ("My Archives With Life in Footnotes") than indulgence in his absolute love of writing and writing about himself as an ongoing search for identity, which, we learn, he began as a youngster with notebook-journals, whether blank or pre-prose printed with his own writing interspersed throughout.

It's a workout for the reader, who must often endure long passages, either in the footnotes or text, to get to many worthwhile anecdotes of value to the reader - as well as to the guy who wrote them.

It is a writer's gift to be facile and loquacious, as Codrescu clearly is. It is a curse, however, when that gift is allowed to be an end unto itself. Writing for digital media (for that is what this printed book actually is) requires, it seems to me, a higher degree of discipline than writing for print. Shortening attention spans may seem like an onerous development but, in practical terms, they require a writer to be more precise and concise, squeezing every bit of meaning into each word as one can. That process can only make a writer better, and economy of prose does not necessarily mean short length of text. It does, however, require s poet's sensibility to measure each word and imbue them with resonance so that the text does not dry up or, worse, liquify into a flood of loose verbiage.

Codrescu identifies himself as a poet, first and foremost, so it is surprising that he has not brought the discipline of poetry into this work. For a poet, the freedom of prose is liberating but that freedom  can be a prison if you're locked in your own head and not listening to the reader (the editorial id), who simply asks to be captured and retained by an author, the latter being the key because what good is grabbing a reader's attention if they soon grow weary of the text? If a writer doesn't  hear a reader in his head every now and then while writing he/she is lost at sea without benefit of lighthouse. Often, those showing videos of their recent vacation to friends at home  (for that is what a reader is, a guest in the writer's house) are deaf, dumb, and blind to closed eyes and snores simply because they're wrapped-up in their memories.

Much of the problem is due to how the book is structured and formatted. Open to just about any page and you will be confronted with a tableau right out of the Talmud, the Jewish book of law, within which the main text block is framed by notes and commentary longer than the text they elucidate. For a law book the format makes sense. For a narrative story it's deadly, the footnotes breaking it up in into bits with long tangents; it's like listening to my mother on the phone.  I know that the  monologue  is fascinating to her but after five minutes it loses its fascination to me and I tune-out, holding the phone at a distance from my ear, interjecting a "hmmm," "oh," or "really" every now and then to let her know I'm still listening even though I stopped fifteen minutes ago. Moby Dick works not despite its many long digressive passages but because they are skillfully integrated into the narrative and hold our attention and interest. Bibliodeath is only 146 pages in length but it feels much longer.

There is some irony here. Bibliodeath appears to be  a digital document translated into analog, the hyperlinks here as footnotes. Laid out in print, it's a disaster for the reader, who is forced to leap into extended extra-text side-trips and by the time each trek has ended you've forgotten the scenery on the main road and have to re-orient yourself. 

As an essay upon the state of books in the 21st century Bibliodeath is a grand failure. But as a writer's memoir of writing it's a keeper, perhaps best kept in the bathroom where you can  flip-through it and cherry-pick. There are a lot of ripe cherries. Codrescu, at one point, for instance, discusses the "paid-reader," an imaginary occupation that might come to be if current trends in writing reach their logical conclusion, and, rather than being paid to write, the writer pays to be read. (Or pays to have good reviews written about their work).

Unfortunately, I can't afford to pay you to read this; Booktryst pays me nothing and I've earned a lot of it. I trust, however, that I've done my best and you won't go on strike simply because wages are non-existent. I like to think that the benefits aren't bad.

Same with Bibliodeath. Beyond the memoir and its frenzy of footnotes, enjoyable however annoyingly (though attractively) placed, it has benefits in the gold nuggets you have to dig for (Soviet-bloc writers' clubs!) and as a cautionary example of a digital document seemingly adapted to print, perfectly suited to a medium that encourages self-indulgence, and of writers without editors to tell them what they don't want to hear but must. A writer who ignores his reader within will lose the reader without, and without readers a writer is nobody. That is bibliodeath.

CODRESCU, Andrei. Bibliodeath. My Archives With Life In Footnotes. [Austin]: Antibookclub, 2012. Trade paperback. Octavo. 168 pp. Illustrated wrappers. $25.00.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ian Hamilton Finlay: Ego in Arcadia

by Alastair Johnston

Ian Hamilton Finlay: Selections, edited with an introduction by Alec Finlay (UC Press, 2012, 312 pp., paperback, $24.95).

Among the most fatal accolades one can achieve is to be called "greatest living" anything. After the death of Francis Bacon (in 1992), Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925–2006) was hailed as Britain's greatest living artist. (After him Lucien Freud got the nod, died 2011, then David Hockney. Why don't they give it to Damien Hirst?)

Like many of his predecessors Finlay's road to the title was one of early poverty, dismissal of his work, and a life of struggle leading to late recognition. Born in the Bahamas, Finlay spent a lot of his early life on boats, one of which smuggled rum into Prohibition ports in the USA. But after the family's orchards in Florida failed due to frost he was shipped off to school in Scotland. As a teen on Clydeside Finlay heard German bombers voiding down explosives and incendiary bombs on the dockland and surrounding areas. Cowering under the table he saw the flash of bombs and waited for the explosions. It seems he never recovered from this traumatic experience. Charts were published by the War Office showing the silhouettes of airplanes so you would know friend from foe. In 1941 Rudolf Hess crash-landed his Messerschmitt, bailing out over Scotland, hoping to broker a peace deal, but was locked up as a war criminal. Finlay enlisted in the British Army in 1942 as a non-combatant. Traveling through Holland he was astounded to see rows of German tanks lined up in front of intact neo-Classical buildings. Another deep impression was made.

After the war he became a shepherd on the remote Orkney islands. His early adult life, seemingly pastoral, was actually turbulent: his girlfriends were as much nurse as muse, and he was finally diagnosed as agoraphobic and treated with LSD-25. His illness put severe constraints on him and he was only happy at home. But he had a vast correspondence among the literary avant garde, including Robert Creeley, Lorine Niedecker and Jerry Rothenberg in America, as well as publishers Jonathan Williams (of Jargon Press) and Gael Turnbull of Migrant. He allied himself with Edwin Morgan and younger Scots poets and their magazine Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. was derided in the media as Poor. Young. Trite. Verse.

    When I have talked for an hour I feel lousy –
    Not so when I have danced for an hour:
    The dancers inherit the party
    While the talkers wear themselves out and
    sit in corners alone, and glower.

This new book compacts much of his writing into one volume. His early poems are mostly negligible, but the odd memorable line occurs ("The dancers inherit the party"-- also the title of his first book of poems). Glasgow Beasts is a charming series of childlike verses written in broad Gleskae dialect. (Finlay's early battles with the dole come off like an episode of Rab C Nesbit.)

The Dancers inherit the Party, (true first edition), Ventura, Ca.: Migrant Press, 1960. Mimeographed with cover woodcut by Zeljko Kujundzic.

In 1963, Finlay began to write concrete poems which are best seen in the original context: whether as an artwork or a small press book with clever typography. There is an attempt to illustrate one or two in the present book (in 2D and monochrome) which is not very successful, but the introduction, by Finlay's son Alec, is a resumé of the poet's career and quotes extensively from his correspondence to illuminate his ideas about poetics, morality, and his various struggles.
Schiff, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Calligraphy by Ron Costley, printed by PKM Studios (Wild Hawthorn Press)

Finlay first discovered concrete poetry through Eugen Gomringer, then published the Brasilian De Campos brothers in his magazine, and even compiled an anthology of concrete poetry for Rothenberg (which has remained unpublished), including Kandinsky and Klee to show that there was a long tradition of using language abstractly. Finlay was excited by concrete poetry which existed objectively: he was "through with poems which are about, and instead wanted poems which just are" (from a letter to Gael Turnbull). He also began to envision his concrete poems sandblasted on glass, set in a landscape.

"birch-bark /birch-barque" Ian Hamilton Finlay, photography by Diane Tammes (Wild Hawthorn Press postcard)

By 1967 he had contracted the local gravestone cutter to make an inscribed stone for him. In 1968 he collaborated with Hansjörg Mayer who would publish a series of influential books, most notably the work of Dieter Roth, the icelandic artist. Others (Ferdinand Kriwet in Germany, Robert Lax in the USA) were working on similar paths and in Britain there was Dom Sylvester Houédard who created kinetic outdoor sculptures out of words (Finlay dismissed him as "anti-culture" and "nonsense"). I have to add that my own discovery of Houédard's wonderful work in the 60s made me rethink the possibilities of poetry as art. (A Benedictine monk, Houédard was also the literary editor of the Jerusalem Bible).

Ian Hamilton Finlay & Michael Harvey, "Who owned the last Norfolk wherry?" (Wild Hawthorn Press, n.d.)

After his second marriage, Finlay's in-laws gave him a small plot of land with a cottage on their estate and that is where he became the great artist, gradually turning the wind-chapped border landscape into Little Sparta, his own one-man nation standing against the might of empire. Other than the allusion to Ancient Greek wars, it should be borne in mind that nearby Edinburgh was called "the New Athens" in the time of Sir Walter Scott. His wife Sue planted the flowers; Ian dreamed up the site-specific texts. Thus his concrete poems were soon literally that, carved in stone or wood. Finlay carried his childhood delight in toy boats and war games into adulthood and it became a central aspect of his art. He built ponds to sail his toy boats and, though far from the ocean, put a sign next to an ash tree "Mare nostrum," as the sound of the wind in the leaves reminded him of the sea. Gradually he took his place among classic British gardeners like Shenstone, and the successive designers of Stowe and Caversham.

Ian Hamilton Finlay/Albrecht Dürer, "The Great Piece of Turf," Photograph by Michael McQueen (Wild Hawthorn Press postcard)

Not content to cultivate his garden, Finlay embarked on the first of his many art-world wars. This was with his publisher Stuart Montgomery of Fulcrum Press. When Fulcrum printed The Dancers Inherit the Party in 1969 they incorrectly described it as the first edition. A five-year long legal battle ensued, which was costly in financial terms to all parties but also caused many fractured friendships & the bankruptcy of the small press. I've seen many an author get hysterical over typographical errors, missed deadlines and other minor matters, but this is absurd! Fortunately Finlay found a longstanding, tolerant and loyal collaborator in Michael Harvey who began calligraphing and carving inscriptions for him in the 1970s. Finlay had over 80 collaborators -- though not in the French sense -- as a list on Wikipedia shows.

This tells us one thing: he was impossible to work with! He had the idea, then the calligrapher, typographer, stone carver, or silk-screener executed it. He liked working with commercial artist more than fine artists, the latter were too snooty and full of their own ideas, whereas commercial artists were good at following instructions.

In the '80s Finlay's interest in German architect Albert Speer deepened and he began to incorporate the double lightning bolt insignia of the SS into his works. Less than a generation after the War he came up with such whimsical ideas as "The Third Reich Revisited." Incredibly, one of his concrete poems is reimagined "enacted by the Reich Labour Corps, on the Terracing at the Zeppelin Field" (the famous Nazi rallying ground in Nuremberg). Shades of "Springtime for Hitler"!

"Cherry Stones" V1s of the Kirschkern project. Models by Ian Hamilton Finlay, photographed by Dave Paterson (Wild Hawthorn Weapons Series postcard)

A friend of mine who is also a keen "art-gardener" went to visit Stonypath and Finlay told her the story of the tax collector. There was a ruined byre on the property and after much thought Finlay decided it would make a great temple to Mercury. There is a Greek myth about Zeus and Hermes (Mercury) coming to the house of a poor, old couple (Baucis and Philemon), being well fed and housed, and on their departure, turning the straw roof of their house into gold & the wooden pillars into marble. So Finlay painted one roof tile gold to indicate the beginning of the transformation and left the rest of the ruin to indicate the poor dwelling. After listening to Finlay's explanation, the tax assessor said, well, I will come back when you've finished it.

Scots people are known for their classical learning, however some of IHF's apothegms are so terse and oblique as to leave the reasonably educated reader guessing. What was Hazlitt's comment on skipping stones? Many of IHF's poems end up as wisecracks or clever one liners, viz:
                   Il Duce
shows his paronomasia hard at work, but much of Finlay's "Table Talk" (Yes, like some eighteenth century writers he collected his own table talk) is sprawling and unedited and often seems like the slightest of notes:

      Vengeance is an act of good faith.

      Schemes for making a great deal of money usually cost a lot.

But then among the cute or labored one-liners are inspired ideas, some of which became works of art, others merely a jot. "Images from the Arcadian Dream Garden" includes many ideas that may or may not have been realized concretely, such as

Carved on a low, broken column in a clearing the numerals 010 30 265 (the International Dialling Code for Delphoi).

A similar column, but with the dialling code for Rome (OIO XXXIX VI).

A boulder inscribed in one corner with the word moss.


Austere neo-Classicism is a hallmark of Finlay's garden art. As Jonathan Jones pointed out in an article in the Guardian, a stone at Stonypath is carved with the provocative statement, "The world has been empty since the Romans," attributed to the French revolutionary Louis-Antoine-Léon Saint-Just. Saint-Just is an important touchstone for Finlay as the French revolutionaries looked back to the Roman Republic as an ideal state.

At the end of his career, Finlay's fickle feuding reached the international stage. In 1987 disaster, rather than terror, struck when the French government, perhaps in recognition of the "Auld Alliance" between the Jacobites and the French court, commissioned him to create an artwork for the bicentennial of the Declaration of the Rights of Man. His interest in revolutionary politics made him an ideal candidate, but the French know "collaborateurs" when they see one! Finlay's lifelong obsession with war (particularly German military might of the Second World War, expressed in U-boats and Panzer divisions) and the struggle with Fascism hoist him on his own petals. It came out that he was not only fascinated by Nazi imagery but had corresponded with Albert Speer! The French people were incensed; the British press defended him. But like a true Jacobin, thinking murder was the way to carry forward the revolution, Finlay went on the attack. Yes the Nazis were abominable but they built great edifices, was his response. Another of his garden temples is dedicated to Apollo, "his music, his missiles, and his muses." Since Apollo was the God of War we shouldn't be surprised. But when his taxman refused to give him exemption on the ground it was not a religious building he had another campaign to fight.

At Documenta 8 in Kassel, Germany, Finlay installed four full-size guillotines, called "A View to the Temple," with quotes from Poussin, Diderot, Robespierre & himself on them. Big art always garners big attention. Finlay was finally an artworld commodity and traded in his wellies for Dolce & Gabbana. His temples are mock-historic edifices, but who are we to say that they are not sacred sites? As Michael Charlesworth wrote in his essay "Contemplative and Spiritual Use of the Temple at Little Sparta" (1994), "Sacred and scared are just a typing error apart and so are worship and warship."

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Best British Binding of the 1930s

by Stephen J. Gertz

On November 29, 2012, Bloomsbury Auctions is offering a copy of Robert Vansittart's The Singing Caravan, published by The Gregynog Press in 1932. It is one of twenty-five copies specially bound by the Gregynog Bindery, one that has been called, "a brilliant binding, one of the most spectacular produced at the Gregynog Press Bindery and perhaps the best British binding of the 1930s" (Maggs,  Bookbinding in the British Isles Part II, no. 307). It is estimated to sell for £3,000-£4,000 ($4,800 - $6,400).

Bound by George Fisher at the Gregynog Press Bindery from an Art Deco-influenced design by William MacCance (signed on the lower turn-in "William MacCance. Gregynog Press Bindery. George Fisher") it is in burnt-orange oasis morocco elaborately tooled with gilt vertical and horizontal fillets of varying thickness, with solid gilt squares and four "L"  shaped onlays of black morocco on each cover. The design on the front incorporates the title and author, and on the lower cover the Press. The upper cover has a fore-edge flap in the manner of an Islamic binding (aka wallet binding) and is tooled to match the covers. It has a smooth spine with gilt lines running over from the covers and lettered up the spine. The top edge is gilt, the others uncut.

MacCance made a charcoal sketch of the design which  Fisher translated into a working drawing as guide.

Lower cover with flap opened.

"George Fisher was born in 1879. His father and grandfather were blacksmiths. He was first employed by a wealthy amateur binder to help with the forwarding and received a sund grounding in this branch of the craft. After two years his employer went to South Africa and Fisher was offered an apprenticeship to Riviere;s. He chose to become a finisher. He tooled thousands of books and also attended Douglas Cockerell's classes. After finishing his time in 1902 he was employed at the small bindery run by Miss Alice Pattinson and her partner Miss Hoffman. In 1907 he married and also set up his own workshop, but this project failed and the next years were spent teaching, with a little binding and working on his small farm in Hampshire.

"It was not until 1924 that, at the sugestion of Douglas Cockerell, he took charge of the Gregynog Press Bindery. John Mason and Sidney Cockerell had also worked there briefly, but it was not until Fisher took over that a limited number (varying between 15 and 43) of each publication were to be specially bound. Except for the sewing these were entirely the work of Fisher. He designed some of them himself but the best designs date from the early 1930s and were the work of William MacCance or Blair Hughes-Stanton. The Press o in 1940 but Fisher stayed on for another four years working on the special bindings. All this time at Gregynog Fisher had travelled the weekends to his farm which was run when he was absent by his wife. When he left the Bindery he retired to the farm and lived there until his death in 1970 but he did no more binding" (Op cit, Maggs).

Frontispiece by William MacCance.

Poet, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, song lyricist, and historian Robert Vansittart, 1st Baron Vansittart (1881-1957),  was a senior British diplomat before and during the Second World War. He was Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister from 1928 to 1930 and Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office from 1930 to 1938 and later served as Chief Diplomatic Adviser to the British Government. His poem, The Singing Caravan: A Sufi Tale, was originally published in London by William Heinemann in 1919.

"The Gregynog Press was unique in that everything was created under one roof - design, typography, illustration, printing and binding. Its fine printing owed much to the incomparable skill of Herbert John Hodgson, pressman from 1927 to 1936, and his successor, Idris Jones. It was fortunate also in the employment of one of the great twentieth-century bookbinders, George Fisher, who joined the staff in 1925. Fisher was responsible for inaugurating special bindings in full leather for part of each edition. Though many of these were designed by the Press artists, Fisher undertook the major part of their making himself. They were superbly executed and noted particularly for the quality of their tooling. Among private presses, only Gregynog paid attention to the quality of its bindings which were to enhance the value of the books among collectors" (Dorothy Harrop, History of Gwasg Gregynog and the Gregynog Press).

[Gregynog Press]. VANSITTART, [Robert]. The Singing Caravan. A Sufi Tale. Quarto (282 x 180 mm). Newtown: The Gregynog Press, 1932.  One of 25 specially bound copies out of a total edition of 250. Quarto (282 x 180 mm). viii, [1] f., 143 pp., plus colophon leaf. Wood-engraved frontispiece, tailpiece, and initials, in brown and black, by William McCance.

Harrop 22.

Friday, November 23, 2012

For Purple Monsters Majesty Above A Nutty Plain

by Stephen J. Gertz

New York: E.P. Dutton, 1949. First separate edition.

 "What mad universe was this that Keith Winton found himself in?
Where purple monsters from the moon roamed the streets with
no one paying any attention to them?"

While strolling in the park one day, in the merry, merry month of May, I was taken by surprise by a pair of purple eyes, purple limbs, purple torso, bad hair day.

Hi, I'm Keith Winton, editor of a pulp science fiction magazine based in a major market - and I ain't  talkin' Trader Joe's. One day (in May), with my trusty co-worker and glamorous girlfriend, Betty, at my side, I visited  my publisher's elegant Borscht Belt estate in the Catskills, just down the road from Grossinger's, up the street from The Concord, around the corner from The Pines, and next door to The Nevele, which is eleven spelled backwards but don't ask me why. We were in a mad universe of upstate New York Jewish resorts and spritzing, tummling comedians. Rim-shot! Laugh? I thought I'd die.

New York: Bantam Books #835, 1950. Cover by Herman Bischoff.
First edition in paperback.

Unfortunately, on that same day an experimental rocket was launched to the Moon. Simultaneously, Betty was launched back to New York. I was alone, then, in my publisher's' garden, lost in thought, when, suddenly, the Moon rocket (whose launch was a friggin' failure) crashed and exploded on the estate (aka Inanity Acres), careening me into a strange but deceptively similar parallel universe. 

Wild-eyed, as you might imagine (if not, imagine it now), I was astonished to discover that credits had replaced dollars; amazed when I encountered scantily-clad pin-up girls who, it turned out, were distaff astronauts with va-va-voom and oh-la-la lunar dreams; and was stupefied when I encountered a Moon race of seven-foot tall purple beings who insouciantly walked down Broadway in New York City as if they were cast members from a parallel universe production of Rogers and Hammerstein's 1949 sock-o South Pacific and belonged there, enjoying one enchanted evening on The Great White Way. Even a cockeyed optimist would look askance at this parade of purple protoplasm engaged in happy talk. How would Earth wash these purple people right out of its hair?

New York: Bantom Books #1253, 1954. Cover by Charles Binger. Reprint.

What mad 1949 universe was I in where Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower makes a cameo appearance? Last I heard he was president of Columbia University and the staff and faculty resented his galavanting around the nation to promote a personal agenda that would one day lead to his nomination and election as President of the United States. Now he's in command of the Venus Sector in defense against the Arcturians with whom we are at war? I like Ike but what mad universe indeed!

Startling Stories - September 1948 - Vol. 18, No. 1
First appearance in print.

And a comic one, yet. Y'know, when a character like yours truly winds up in a science-fiction novel you figure cosmic funereal not interplanetary farce; dying is easy, comedy is hard. But that's exactly what What Mad Universe is, a social and literary satire of modern American life at mid-century and science-fiction genre conventions.

Call me Pirandello minus five but I feel like one character in search of an author, specifically Fredric Brown (1906-1972), who wrote me into  What Mad Universe. I suppose I should consider myself lucky: Brown was a master of the short-short story, often writing fully-developed tales of only one to three pages in length; my story - my life! - could have been dramatically condensed. In 1955, he published Martians Go Home (They Came, They Saw, They Left!), another screwball sci-fi comedy.

London: Grafton, 1987. Artist unknown.

Brown was also a fine mystery writer, his first full-length novel, The Fabulous Clipjoint (1947), winning an Edgar Award. For years prior he wrote hundreds of stories for the pulp magazines of his era.

What Mad Universe has become a classic, one of the most popular speculative fiction novels ever written. It has been reprinted many times.

Paris: Le Rayon Fantastique #21 (Hachette/Gallimard), 1953.
First ppk. edition in French. Cover by Rene Caillé.

It was very popular in France, winning immediate critical acclaim upon its release. Many French critics consider it to be one of the major sci-fi novels of all time. But they are equally ga-ga about Jerry Lewis movies, UFOs in the U.S.A. but laff-fests in France. Vive L'Univers en Folie.

What Mad Universe?

Goodbye, I'm Keith Winton, not to be confused with my cousin, Alfred E. Newman, above.

Below, allow me to serenade you with a little bagatelle I recorded in 1959 under an assumed name when the purple people eaters returned to digest and excrete me.


BROWN, Fredric. What Mad Universe. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1949. First separate edition. Octavo. 255, [1] pp. Cloth. Dust jacket.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Message To Torres-Garcia: See You At Christie's

by Stephen J. Gertz

L'Art en relació amb l'home etemi l'home que passa.
[Barcelona]: Amics de Sitges and sold by Salvat-Papasseit, 1919.
Twelvemo. Original wrappers (probably after Torres-Garcia).
Case by Cambras w/design after Torres-Garcia.
Inscribed to Joan Salvat-Papasseit.

On November 29, 2012, Christie's-South Kensington is offering a fiesta of books associated with South American Modernism at their Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts sale. 

Amongst books by Neruda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Borges ia a selection of first editions by Joachim Torres-Garcia (1874-1949), the Uruguayan artist, theorist, and writer who introduced abstract art to South American culture after moving to New York City in 1920.

TORRES-GARCIA, Joachim. Raison et nature.
Paris [Montevideo]: Imán, 1932 [but later].
Small folio. 44 ff reproducing Torres-Garcia's MS
and drawings. Case by Cambras.

Born in Uruguay's capitol, Montevideo, Torres-Garcia studied drawing as a seventeen year-old, and when the family moved to Barcelona in 1892 he enrolled in Escuela de Bellas Artes de Barcelona. His earliest work was influenced by French Impressionism and his paintings were exhibited. He soon began to paint frescoes, murals, and design stained glass. He possessed an idealist conception of art and followed the ideology of Catalan nationalism bringing its themes into his work.

TORRES-GARCIA, Joachim. Historia de mi vida.
Montevideo: Asociación de Arte Constructivo [the author],1939.
Octavo. Illustrations throughout. Original wrappers.
Case by Cambras.

But his first book, Notes sobre Art ("Notes on Art"), published in May 1913, marked the de facto break with the Catalanistas. Slowly and inexorably he moved toward Modernism and abstraction while developing his progressive art theories, and in 1920 moved to Paris and then New York City where he mingled with the expat Parisian and American artists who were turning the art world upside down. He never returned to Barcelona.

Nueva escuela de arte del Uruguay.
Montevideo: Asociación de Arte Constructico, 1946.
Quarto.  Reproductin of the author's MS and
photomechanical illustrations throughout.
Original printed card covers w/dust jacket, each
illustrated after Torres-Garcia. Inscribed by the author.

Broke and with a family to support, he returned to Europe, settled in Italy, and turned to toymaking, founding the Aladdin Toy Company. Encouraged to take up his brush once more, he exhibited to favorable reviews, returned to Paris in 1926 and began his association with the Constructivist movement to which he brought the order and logic of geometry and proportion to composition.

Lo aparente y lo concreto en al arte.
Paris: Studio Torres-Garcia, 1948.
Octavo. 32 plates. Original cloth backed illustrated boards.

He left Paris once more in 1932 and migrated to Madrid where he established the Grupo Constructivo. Two years later, he packed his family and moved- this time for good - to his native Montevideo, where he was received as a member of the European artistic elite, and founded the Sociedad de las Artes del Uruguay.

By the late 1930s, Torres-Garcia had begun to integrate Pre-Columbian and indigenous Native American symbolism into his work.

TORRES-GARCIA, Joachim. Diálegs.
Terrassa: Mulleras & Co. [for the author?], 1915.
Octavo. Original cloth. Morocco case by Cambras.

His aesthetic-philosophical artistic theory of Universalismo Constructivo ("Constructive Universalism") was published in 1944 based upon the principles of proportion, unity and structure organized on a mystic theory of order.

TORRES-GARCIA, Joaquin. Notes Sobre Art.
N.p. [Terrassa?]: Printed by Rafel Masó [for the author?], 1913.
Octavo. Title with illustrations after "M.P." Four headpieces after Torres-Garcia.
Original cloth, by Eduard Domench of Barcelona.

Torres-Garcia's influence upon Latin American artists was incalculable. It was he who called upon them to embrace their local roots and bring their heritage to bear in their work through a modern artistic language of which he was a key developer. When discussing Latin American art in the twentieth century all conversation leads back to Torres-Garcia.

With over thirty-five writing credits to his name, Torres-Garcia was as fluent and influential as an author as he was an artist.

All images courtesy  of Christie's, with our thanks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Checklist of Goliard Press Jobwork (London 1965-7)

by Alastair Johnston  

Tom Raworth Working Bibliography part III

               porque todo: ropaje, piel, vasijas,
               palabras, vino, panes,
               se fué, cayó a la tierra
                                -- Pablo Neruda, Alturas de Macchu Picchu (1945)

             (for everything: clothes, skin, cups,
                words, wine, bread,
                has disappeared, fallen to earth)

While running Matrix Press, Tom Raworth had done bits of job-printing. His biggest commission was a catalogue with full-colour cover for an exhibition of paintings by Michael Kidner at the Grabowski Gallery. Though Raworth was tired working full time and typesetting and printing at night, Barry Hall interested him in the idea of collaborating in a new press venture. In 1965, they started Goliard Press in a stable behind Finchley Road tube station, leveling the cobbled floor with planks for the equipment to stand on. It was still an evening-and-weekend operation as both were working full-time, but Hall's job as an engraver meant he could put through blocks for their own projects, while Raworth's correspondents from Outburst magazine meant there was no shortage of material to print and publish.

Cover for LOVE LOVE LOVE (Corgi Books, 1967) Artist unknown

The small press scene in London was friendly and fluid with the three main presses, Trigram, Fulcrum and Goliard collaborating frequently. Rathna Ramanathan* characterizes the others thus: "Trigram Press (1965 to 1980) was founded by American poet Asa Benveniste and his English wife Penelope (Pip). Trigram books were notable amongst little presses for the quality of their design and production. A number of Trigram books were printed letterpress or silk-screen by Benveniste and Pip's son Paul Vaughan. Benveniste also designed and printed for other little presses. Louis Zukofsky, Gavin Ewart, and Tom Raworth are some of the poets whose work was published by Trigram Press."

"Fulcrum Press (1965 to 1974) was run by the Rhodesian poet Stuart Montgomery and his wife Deirdre. Fulcrum Press was one of the best known little presses of the period and is recognized for publishing the works of Modernist poets, among them Ezra Pound, Basil Bunting, Allen Ginsberg and Roy Fisher."

The Fulcrum Press of Stuart & Deirdre Montgomery was not a printer however, and had most of their printing done by Villiers Press, which was serviceable though typographically uninspired (like the City Lights books they also printed). Montgomery's interest was in marketing so he wanted his books to conform to the (dull) appearance of other trade books, and he also issued special limited edition signed hardbacks on tinted Glastonbury laid paper to lure the collector market. However, Montgomery frequently had exceptional cover art from Tom Phillips, Barnett Newman, Patrick Caulfield, Ian Dury, Ron Kitaj or Richard Hamilton. He also commissioned work from the other small presses in town. Fulcrum's finest work is Basil Bunting's Loquitur (1965), designed by Richard Hamilton and printed at the Eden & Finsbury Press.

A major difference between Fulcrum and Goliard books is the labour involved. Goliard's books were all hand-set whereas Villiers used Intertype to set the books of Fulcrum, meaning longer works, like Gary Snyder's 164-page Regarding Wave (1972), could be typeset relatively quickly. The three vital small presses were joined by Ferry Press whose books were published by Andrew Crozier. He was a Cambridge student who contacted Val and Tom for information on American poetry. Raworth remembers him as "a dry, intelligent man." He started with Thread by Fielding Dawson in 1964. That year Crozier went to SUNY/ Buffalo on a Fulbright Scholarship and became a student of Olson.

Though they were selling out 2-400 copies of their books, Goliard was kept afloat by commissions from other publishers, most significantly Bernard Stone who ran the crowded Turret Bookshop at number 1, Kensington Church Walk, not far from Biba, the iconic fashion shop. Stone was an influential figure in the English small press scene, serving wine in his bookshop on Saturday afternoons to assembled poets and authors. He published 20 graphically exciting poetry posters with Christopher Logue, started Steam Press with Ralph Steadman, and published the poetry he loved under the Turret Books imprint. As Raworth told me, "Poor old Bernard did use us, and pay on time..."

Edward Lucie-Smith, A Game of French and English, Turret Books, 1966

Hall & Raworth probably groaned at the MacBeth and Lucie-Smith manuscripts, but the commissions were important and show them being adventurous with materials. Though they never achieved the typographic acme of Asa Benveniste & Paul Vaughan at Trigram Press, their design for Edward Lucie-Smith's Game of French and English and Robin Fedden's Personal Landscape is excellent, while their handsomest productions for Stone, Zukofsky's Iyyob and Ted Hughes' Burning of the Brothel, mirror their own work at Goliard, so there was continuity with their vision and the jobs they took on.

At the point when Jonathan Cape came on board at Goliard in 1967, Raworth left, but he mentions that many manuscripts had piled up and the later Cape-Goliard publications of Paul Blackburn, Jeremy Prynne, Michael McClure, John Wieners and Charles Olson's Maximus Poems were in process. Raworth says, "We'd already been approached by George Rapp (the aluminium millionaire who later published as Rapp & Carroll) who offered to put money into the press; but we'd knocked him back, thinking that he'd want to publish boring stuff." Raworth recalled the occasion of his briefly famous remark when Rapp came by and asked how he "could help the Press and Poetry". "Give us the money and fuck off" was Raworth's reply. He had the same feeling about Jonathan Cape, that "no one gives money without wanting to influence the product, and I certainly wasn't interested in publishing manuscripts selected by committee."

The committee referred to was Tom Maschler, editor of Jonathan Cape, and one of his authors, Nathaniel Tarn. Born in Paris in 1928, Tarn trained as an anthropologist before turning to literature. His first book Old Savage, Young City was published by Jonathan Cape in 1964, for whom he also translated the widely acclaimed poem of Pablo Neruda, The Heights of Macchu Picchu. In 1967 he joined Cape as an editor and suggested they work with a small press. Among the options, Goliard was chosen and became Cape Goliard bringing more money and work to Barry Hall and a prestigious "loss-leader" to Jonathan Cape who could venture to print works by relative unknowns among their list, adding the New American voices of Olson, Robert Duncan, Zukofsky, their followers, and others. After Raworth left, Hall was joined by Chris Breyer.

While a student at King's College, Cambridge, Tarn had felt British poetry was still stuck on Rupert Brooke. At Cape he was able to bring not only anthropology (Claude Lévi-Strauss) but poetry in translation from Europe and Latin-America to the press, and this was a major service to the poetry-buying public, while at the same time Trigram & Fulcrum were continuing to promote the Transatlantic voices of Duncan, Zukofsky, Snyder, Ed Dorn, Larry Eigner, Lorine Niedecker and others to British readers.

As I said in Part II, Britain was not devoid of good poets: Roy Fisher, Basil Bunting, Philip Larkin and Hugh McDiarmid, among others, were important and influential writers. Penguin Modern Poets was launched in 1962 with the usual suspects but by 1966 they devoted a volume to the Mersey Sound of Adrian Henri, Roger McGough & Brian Patten and another to the Beat trio of Corso, Ferlinghetti & Ginsberg. 1966 was a great year for mass-market poetry in Britain with Penguin continuing its Modern European Poets series with Four Greek Poets (including Cavafy), Noboyuki Yuasa's translation of Basho's Narrow Road to the Deep North, and the landmark Peter Whigham translation of Catullus, dedicated to the memory of William Carlos Williams. The emergent voices in Britain were being heard in live readings organized in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Merseyside and London by Alan Jackson, Tom Pickard, Pete Brown, Mike Horovitz and others. These young voices were proclaimed in a popular paperback book with psychedelic cover art, Love Love Love: The New Love Poetry (edited by Pete Roche, Corgi Books, 1967), published at 5 shillings: the average age of the poets involved was 25. But the Don Allen anthology, The New American Poetry (Grove Press, 1960), gained momentum and created interest in the concurrent voices from the USA. For Cape, Goliard was a solid conduit to the new writing because of the personal connections established by Raworth and Hall over the preceding five years.

Tom Maschler, Cape's editor-in-chief mainly dealt with Barry Hall, but "All of us were initiators and mediators," said Tarn. "I remember having to argue Cape's viewpoint with Barry at times and vice versa: unlike an independent little press, we all had to compromise on occasions. Sometimes Barry & I felt a little hard done by: in cases, for instance, where Cape would decide to take someone like Duncan for the general list rather than the Cape Goliard list. But, by and large, there was a great deal of latitude. Barry, fascinated by design, often performed miracles of book production within (or without!) the official budget. Editorial process was informal: things would come in from Barry's and my contacts and discussion would begin. Commissioning was in Cape's hands.

Part of Cape-Goliard's prolific output: The Adventures of Mr & Mrs Jim & Ron by Ron Padgett & Jim Dine (1970), Maya by Anselm Hollo (1970), J.H. Prynne Kitchen Poems (1968), Our Word, Guerilla Poems from Latin America translated by Ed Dorn & Gordon Brotherston (1968), Out Loud by Adrian Mitchell (1968), Wales: A Visitation by Allen Ginsberg (1968), & In the Dark Move Slowly by Tuomas Anhava, translated by Anselm Hollo (1969)

"The intention at Cape-Goliard was to publish avant-garde poets, mainly American, but with quite a few British and foreign, in the spirit of the little press with the full battery of typographic and design innovation which Barry could bring to the work. The products were to be sold as normal books, normally priced, though some de luxe versions were usually produced."

This arrangement continued until one day, fed up with Cape, Hall inked the press, ran the rollers halfway across a forme of type and walked out. (Oddly, as an eccentric badge of his role, Tarn would wear a cape in those days!) Hall did a few books under the Goliard imprint in New Mexico and in 1974 revived Goliard in London to print Ace, by Tom Raworth (but most of the edition was destroyed in a freak flood).

While this post is not about Cape Goliard's books it is important to distinguish Raworth and Hall's role in creating the market for new poetry in England and also in setting in motion the works of McClure, Olson, Ginsberg, Prynne and others that were published by Cape Goliard. Tarn has often spoken as if he was the instigator of these works, rather than the inheritor and benefactor of Raworth's groundwork. But this is nothing new in the small press world. A parallel instance is the frequent assertion of Andrew Hoyem of Arion Press in San Francisco that he came to town determined to bring into print the unknown talents of John Wieners, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Philip Lamantia, Lew Welch and the other poets who were published by Auerhahn. The truth is ALL of these works were printed by Dave Haselwood at Auerhahn before Hoyem came to San Francisco and became involved in the press (see, e.g., "The Good Book in Good Hands," by Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle, December 27, 1998, or "Cast Out" by Ken Garcia, where again Hoyem states that he printed the first books of Burroughs and Whalen.)

Raworth says, "Certainly the Olson contact was mine (after all we'd already done West) ... and certainly the Prynne was in the works. The Blackburn too. The McClure came through Barry's SF connections I imagine. And we certainly had personal contacts with Berrigan, Ginsberg and Dine dating from well before the 'deal'. I can't really say that I'm bitter... I couldn't have stood working under those conditions, having to have 'meetings' with arseholes to 'decide'. I thought Tarn's Cape Editions series was excellent, so I had nothing personal against him. I didn't like how, in that Zamir piece,* the implication was that everything started with Cape Goliard, rather than with Goliard. But the important thing is that in London a few people and three or four presses (if one includes Ferry for example), starting from scratch, produced a lot of interesting and generally good-looking books in a very few years and made visible a very different world of poetry."



Fulcrum Press

Basil Bunting

12 3/4 x 9 3/4", 30 pp laid paper; Hardback bound in black buckram, green laid paper dustwrapper printed in 72' Caslon with Celtic animal image printed in red.
Note: The poem, finished in May 1965, marked Bunting's triumphal return to poetry after years of obscurity as financial editor for a Newcastle newspaper. The first printing of Briggflatts was done by Hall & Raworth on Trigram's larger Glockner flat-bed cylinder press: so it was a three-way collaboration between the key small presses in London.
Colophon: This first edition is limited to 500 copies of which 100 are specially bound in cloth and 26 specially bound lettered A through Z are signed by the author. The text has been hand set in 14 pt. Caslon Old Face and printed at the Goliard Press London. We thank Barry Hall and Nick Strausfeld for the artwork, Tom Pickard and Gael Turnbull for their help and Poetry (Chicago) for their co-operation. This book has been designed by Stuart Montgomery.

The book has some awful half-uncial hand-lettering (by Strausfeld?) and clip art from Insular manuscripts printed as borders in black and red. The inspiration for these was probably Bunting's
   "punctuate a text whose initial,
     lost in Lindisfarne plaited lines
     stands for discarded love."
There are also Lombardic initials printed in red, with an upside-down C used as a D.

1965 broadside
Basil Bunting
Ode II/2

for Fulcrum Press, made as a Christmas card. Single sheet folded to make six panels.

Ian Hamilton Finlay
Canal Games
Fulcrum Press
9 x 4". Set in 30 pt Placard Condensed caps, printed in multi-colours on 6 heavy cardboard leaves which have been trisected horizontally and spiral bound (in a red plastic comb binding), to form 18 cards which may be turned at random. 8 pp including titlepage and colophon: "This first edition of 1000 copies has been designed & printed by the Goliard Press, London. Fifty copies have been signed by the author & numbered."

Characteristically playful work from the Scots concrete poet and gardener.

Trigram Press

George Andrews, Burning Joy (Trigram Press, 1967)

George Andrews
Burning Joy

9 3/4 x 6 3/8", 40 pp., wove paper, sewn and glued into coated card covers. 550 numbered copies, 1 to 50 signed by the author. Cover painting by Barry Hall, back cover photo by Hans Bruggeman. 15s $2.50 Set in 12' Monotype Centaur. Display in Cochin, cover title in Engravers Roman.
Note: As Benveniste was not a practicing printer when he started Trigram, and his son-in-law Paul was a silkscreen printer with only 6 months experience in letterpress, it's natural they would job out some early titles.

Ferry Press

Steve Jonas
Music Master

Illustrated by Barry Hall
Ferry Press 1966
Three panel folder with Hall's illustration, and Jonas' poem (a fold-out sheet) tipped-in. The edition was limited to 33 copies, each numbered and signed by Jonas and Hall.

Steve Jonas
Transmutations: Poems

Ferry Press 1966
Introduction by John Wieners. Drawing by Basil King.
9 3/4 x 7 1/2" 64 pp (unpaginated) wove paper, sewn and glued into plain pink wrappers, with white chromo dust jacket. Basil King cover image in red; set in 10' Perpetua, cover display in 36' Verona.

Lawrence Clark Powell
Two tributes by Henry Miller
A souvenir of a visit by Lawrence Clark Powell to the College of Librarianship, Wales. 22 November 1966.
100 copies, 3 pp, folded to 10 x 6 1/2" Titlepage in green ink with Hall's rose image printed in red; inside text all printed in red ink. Colophon: "Printed in an edition of 100 by the Goliard Press, London, for The College of Librarianship, Wales.
 Handset in Cochin type, and printed on Glastonbury antique-laid paper.
 Rose drawn by Barry Hall." Right side of fold has two quotes from Henry Miller from Preface to The Air-conditioned Nightmare, 1945, and
 Preface to The Books in my Life, 1951. "No request of any sort, in fact, has he ever turned down." [Info from Kim C Mattheussens] Only institutional copy at UCLA.

Turret Books

Louis Zukofsky, IYYOB, Turret Books, 1965

Louis Zukofsky

4 x 6", 16 pp. Printed on rag paper, and sewn into wraps, in a printed rice-paper dust jacket in large Hebrew in yellow, and Westminster. Text in Cochin type. The lace paper endpaper has acidified, causing discoloration of the neighbouring sheets.
AJ: I found a copy of IYYOB, is it Hebrew as heard?
TR: Original Word: אּיּוֹב
Transliteration: Iyyob
Phonetic Spelling: (ee-yobe')
Short Definition: Job...
I guess that's it... as in "Get an iyyob!"

Edward Lucie-Smith
Fir Tree Song

11 1/4 x 9 1/2", sides folded into flaps to make doors; shaped poem in green and red Caslon type; 250 copies of which 75 numbered & signed; cover title printed vertically in Westminster type

Edward Lucie-Smith
Three Experiments

11 1/2 x 5 1/2" trifold on tan card stock. Cover art in black and red (repeated inside in white). Text in Caslon & Arrighi italic printed in red, cover in Westminster. 80 copies, numbered & signed.

Edward Lucie-Smith, A Game of French and English, Turret Books, 1965

Edward Lucie-Smith
A Game of French and English

8 x 5 5/8" 16 pp., stapled into french-folded wrappers, with a printed tissue dustwrapper, printed in red and blue in 60' Fry's Baskerville type. Text in 12' Cochin, 100 signed & numbered copies.

Dom Moraes, Beldam Etcetera, Turret Books, 1966

March 1966
Dom Moraes
Beldam Etcetera

8 7/8 x 5 3/8" 24 pp. of Glastonbury laid sewn into tan card wraps, with a printed duplex dust jacket. 100 signed & numbered copies, Goudy type. Title-page is printed on Japanese paper with a line-block facsimile of the manuscript in yellow and title display in turquoise.

Christopher Logue
In May

broadside, yellow paper (not seen)

Robin Fedden, Personal Landscape, Turret Books, 1966

June 1966
Robin Fedden
Personal Landscape

5 1/2 x 6 1/2" 22 pages Glastonbury laid paper sewn into plain card wraps, with a printed yellow dust jacket. 1000 copies, of which 50 are cloth-bound (in burgundy cloth, with dust jacket). Prose memoir of Lawrence Durrell with a photograph by John Waller bound in. Goudy Old Face with Cochin italic display.
Ted Hughes, The Burning of the Brothel, Turret Books, 1966

October 1966
Ted Hughes
The Burning of the Brothel

11 1/4 x 9" 16 pp. cream-coloured Glastonbury paper, 12' Caslon type. Title in 48' Perpetua printed on a leaf of Japanese paper with lumps of bark (a sure way to destroy your type!). Illustrated with found medieval woodcuts, printed in colours. Sewn and covered with a printed blue wrapper. 300 copies of which 75 numbered and signed. (Variant: less than ten copies were issued in red wrappers before they were rejected in favour of blue.) Sagar & Tabor A9.
Edward Lucie-Smith, Gallipoli, Turret Books, 1966

December 1966
Edward Lucie-Smith

13 x 6 1/8" broadside in green Cochin type on Glastonbury paper, in wrapper. 300 copies, of which 100 numbered & signed. Folded in thirds, with printed label on front of wrapper. My copy (shown) designated "1 of 3 quality Goliard Press proofs" and inscribed to (American collector) Joseph Gold from the author. (One of four or more Christmas cards issued by Turret Books.)

February 1967
Turret Poets Read
11 x 14 3/4" folded in thirds. Offset on cardstock; programme for reading at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts), 17 Dover Street. With contributions from Kevin Crossley-Holland, Christopher Logue, Jeff Nuttall, George MacBeth, Edward Lucie-Smith, and stills from "Juicy Movie," a film by Barry Hall & Tom Raworth. 400 copies issued as invitation/programmes for the event, with 100 more numbered and signed.

George MacBeth, The Screens, Turret Books, 1967

February 1967
George MacBeth
The Screens

10 x 7 3/4" 200 copies of which 100 numbered and signed. 6 sheets of Canson cover, each a different colour, printed with a poem, then folded to make "doors" in the front with an image printed on the left side. Housed in a sheet of heavy white etching paper, printed, embossed & scored. (Poems inspired by Chinese calligraphy)

Edward Lucie-Smith, Heureux Qui, comme Ulysse, Turret Books, 1966

December 1967
Edward Lucie-Smith
'Heureux Qui, Comme Ulysse...'

8 1/4 x 6" 500 copies, 100 numbered & signed. Three-colour broadside on Glastonbury cream laid paper, tipped into yellow cardstock folder with what appears to be a Flaxman drawing of Greek sculpture on the cover. Caslon type with Cochin italic. Display in 24' Recherché caps in red and green.


Note: Anselm Hollo's The Man in the Treetop Hat, published by Turret, was printed by Hall & Breyer in June 1968. Michael McClure's broadside, "Childhood memories are like the smallness of Keats' words..." also appeared in 1968. Other significant Turret publications were Jonathan Williams' The Lucidities, with drawings by John Furnival (Turret, 1967), Henry Miller & Alfred Perles' What are You Going to Do about Alf? (Turret, 1971), Lucie-Smith's A Garland from the Greek (Christmas, 1971), and Beasthood by Bryn Griffiths, with photographs by Pip Benveniste (Turret, 1972), which were all printed at Trigram Press.

Refs: Rathna Ramanathan, "English little presses, book design and production. A Study of five London publishers, 1945-1979," Doctoral dissertation, University of Reading, Dept of Typography & Graphic Communication, October 2006.

Shamoon Zamir: "Bringing the World to Little England: Cape Editions, Cape Goliard and Poetry in the Sixties. An Interview with Nathaniel Tarn. With an afterword by Tom Raworth," in E. S. Shaffer, ed., in "Literary Devolution." Comparative Criticism, vol 19, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 263-286,

[Joe McCann] "Bernard Stone's Books," Maggs Bros Ltd Catalogue 1456, with a foreword by Barry Miles, London, 2012

Tom Raworth Working Bibliography Part II. A Checklist of the Goliard Press (1965-7).

Tom Raworth Working Bibliography Part I: A Checklist Of Matrix Press (London 1961-4). 
Subscribe to BOOKTRYST by Email