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  • Fourteen Poems by C P Cavafy chosen and illustrated with twelve etchings by David Hockney translated by Kikos Stangos and Stephen Spender. by HOCKNEY, David. HOCKNEY, David. ~ Fourteen Poems by C P Cavafy chosen and illustrated with twelve etchings by David Hockney translated by Kikos Stangos and Stephen Spender. London: Editions Alecto Limited, [ 1966].
    First edition. An unnumbered artist’s proof copy from Edition A (which consisted of 250 numbered copies, plus 50 artist’s proof copies). The total edition was… (more)

    First edition. An unnumbered artist’s proof copy from Edition A (which consisted of 250 numbered copies, plus 50 artist’s proof copies). The total edition was of 550 bound copies and 120 loose sets of the plates only. Edition A was issued with an additional loose signed print ‘Cavafy II’, sometimes framed by owners and not present in this copy. The very rare publisher’s prospectus and an uncompleted order form are inserted at the rear. The plates are not edition stamped on the rear.
    ‘Cavafy wrote two kinds of poem — love and historical. The fourteen selected for this book are, with the exception of Caesarian, poems of homosexual love: short, unrhymed, deeply felt but totally unsentimental. They appear in a new, hitherto unpublished translation by Nikos Stangos and Stephen Spender... For several years Hockney has admired the work of Cavafy’ (from the Prospectus). The book was included by Neil McGregor in the BBC/British Museum’s History of the World in 100 Objects as an emblem of the struggle for human rights and sexual freedom ― homosexual acts in private were decriminalised in Britain only in 1967, the year Hockney’s startling collection appeared (McGregor, pp. 635-9).

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  • Les Hermaphrodites. [L’Isle des Hermaphrodites nouvellement descouverte. Avec les moeurs, loix, coustume & ordonances des habitans d’icelle]. by [ARTUS, Thomas, sieur d’Embry]. [ARTUS, Thomas, sieur d’Embry]. ~ Les Hermaphrodites. [L’Isle des Hermaphrodites nouvellement descouverte. Avec les moeurs, loix, coustume & ordonances des habitans d’icelle]. [N.p ?France, N.d. c. 1605].
    First edition of Artus’s satire on Henri III of France (assassinated in 1589) who was reputedly fond of cross-dressing and whose court was widely criticised… (more)

    First edition of Artus’s satire on Henri III of France (assassinated in 1589) who was reputedly fond of cross-dressing and whose court was widely criticised for decadence and immorality.

    Les Hermaphrodites describes a realm populated by men who dress as women, not strictly hermaphrodite but preoccupied by dress, hairstyle, makeup, extravagant gesture and speech. Also concerned with the laws and customs of the hermaphrodite kingdom, the satire operates by presenting Henri’s court as both dissolute and against nature. In so doing it reflects in great detail contemporary attitudes (both positive and negative) to gender-blurring of any sort, whether social or sexual. At one point, for example, Artus writes ironically that cross-dressing was perfectly permissible: ‘Chacun pourra s’abiller à sa fantasie, pourveu que ce soit bravement, superbement, & sans aucune distinction ny consideration de sa qualité ou faculté’, thus combining his disapproval with a suggestion of the negation of natural order or rank.
    The engraved title depicts a figure of ambiguous gender (perhaps Henri himself) in male breeches, but full-hipped, with a suggestion of female breasts and a floral coiffe, with the legend ‘A tous accords’. Below it is the text:

    ‘Je ne suis masle ny femelle
    Et sy je suis bien en ceruelle
    Le quell des deux je doibs choisir
    Mais qu’importe à qui on ressamble
    Il vault mieux les avoir ensemble
    On en reçoit double Plaisir.’

    Henri’s sexuality was the subject of numerous contemporary satires. His taste for cross-dressing was well-known and his sexual orientation a matter of speculation, since he enjoyed close relationships with his male mignons (providing plenty of ammunition for moralistic detractors) but also well-publicised affairs with a succession of mistresses.

    The second part of the book is Discours de Jacophile a Limne. Les Hermaphrodites was republished in 1724 with the title Description de l’isle des Hermaphrodites. This reprint is comparatively common, while the first edition is notably rare.

    The arms of the contemporary binding are of the Clausse de Marchaumont family, probably those of courtier Henri (d. 1613), the eldest son of Henry II’s secreatary of state Cosme Clausse, who served as Henry III’s ambassador to the Swiss states.

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  • Messes noires. Lord Lyllian. by FERSEN, Jacques d’Adelswärd, baron. FERSEN, Jacques d’Adelswärd, baron. ~ Messes noires. Lord Lyllian. Paris: [Bussière, Saint-Amande, for] Librairie Léon Vanier, A. Messein, successeur, 1905.
    First edition (despite the mention fictive ‘deuxième édition’ on the title-page). A pioneering gay narrative and one of the first novels written about Oscar Wilde… (more)

    First edition (despite the mention fictive ‘deuxième édition’ on the title-page). A pioneering gay narrative and one of the first novels written about Oscar Wilde after his conviction. Messes noires is the story of Lord Lyllian, a tragic character born in Scotland with a striking overt resemblance to Wilde, addicted to adolescent boys and to opium. It was written on the Island of Capri where Fersen had fled following his arrest in France (for indecent assault and exciting minors to debauchery in the course of a series of soirées dubbed Messes noires). Fersen had formerly associated with a coterie of Paris decadents including Jean Lorrain, Robert de Montesquiou and Karl-Joris Huysmans, but his 1903 arrest caused a scandal in the press, who were quick to dub him ‘un nouvel Oscar Wilde’, and he was ostracised by almost all his former literary friends. The cover and title-page of the novel bear the Wildean epigram ‘L’amour a pour moi deux ennemis: / les préjugés et ma concierge’.

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  • After Reading [After Berneval]. Letters to Robert Ross. by WILDE, Oscar. WILDE, Oscar. ~ After Reading [After Berneval]. Letters to Robert Ross. [London:] Beaumont Press, 1921-2.
    First editions, limited issues, numbers 127 and 231 of 200 and 400 copies respectively (a further 75 copies of each edition were issued on Japanese… (more)

    First editions, limited issues, numbers 127 and 231 of 200 and 400 copies respectively (a further 75 copies of each edition were issued on Japanese vellum and signed by publisher and artists). Separately issued companion volumes, collecting Wilde’s letters to Ross, his sometime-lover, constant companion and literary executor, written from France in the aftermath of his release from Reading Gaol. Ross faithfully guarded Wilde’s personal and literary legacy after his death, pursuing pirated editions and preserving his literary rights for Wilde’s sons. It was he who commissioned Epstein’s sculpture for the tomb at Père Lachaise and his will stipulated that his own ashes should be placed there with Oscar’s.

    Ross had prepared a volume of Wilde’s post-prison letters to him before the first war and had drafted an introduction shortly before his own sudden death in 1918. These two small volumes are selections, but represent the earliest attempt at a collection of Wilde letters. They are expurgated by removing the names of Lord Alfred Douglas, Constance Wilde and a few others, but the meanings are always obvious.

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  • Apologia pro Oscar Wilde. by (WILDE). YOUNG, Dalhousie. (WILDE). YOUNG, Dalhousie. ~ Apologia pro Oscar Wilde. London: William Reeves, [ 1895].
    First edition of this defence of Wilde by his loyal friend, composer and pianist, Dalhousie Young. ‘Published after Oscar Wilde's trial, during which Wilde's works… (more)

    First edition of this defence of Wilde by his loyal friend, composer and pianist, Dalhousie Young. ‘Published after Oscar Wilde's trial, during which Wilde's works were used as evidence of his ‘immorality'’ Apologia pro Oscar Wilde sets out to defend Wilde and his writing. Dalhousie Young argues that a work of fiction is not automatically a work of autobiography; fiction does reveal an author's inner secrets or true character. Powerfully, Young furthermore publicly questions whether it is right that sexual acts between two consenting adults of the same sex should be outlawed (see p. 38), or looked upon as a ‘sin’’ (British Library).

    This is the second of two issues of the first edition, distinguished by its darker wrapper. Millard, Bibliography of Oscar Wilde, p. 574, no. 679.

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  • Peccatum mutum (the mute Sin, alias Sodomy) a theological Treatise. For the first Time translated from the Latin of Father Sinistrari. by SINISTRARI, Ludovico Maria. SINISTRARI, Ludovico Maria. ~ Peccatum mutum (the mute Sin, alias Sodomy) a theological Treatise. For the first Time translated from the Latin of Father Sinistrari. Paris: Isidore Liseux, 1893.
    First edition in English, very scarce, a portion of Sinistrari’s De Delictis et Poenis Tractatus Absolutissimus (1700). The English title here finds an echo the… (more)

    First edition in English, very scarce, a portion of Sinistrari’s De Delictis et Poenis Tractatus Absolutissimus (1700). The English title here finds an echo the following year with ’The love that dare not speak its name’ in Lord Alfred Douglas’s poem ‘Two Loves’ (1894), later discussed at length in the Wilde trial. Liseux was a pioneering figure in the publication of clandestine literature in English, working from Paris, but evidently supplying an English market. His publications were frequently scholarly texts in the history of sexuality and found their way onto the shelves of bibliophiles and collectors of erotica.

    Ludovico Maria Sinistrari (26 February 1622 – 1701) was an Italian Franciscan priest, author, and member of the Inquisition tasked with the investigation of sexuality. Worldcat: Cornell, NYPL, UC Davis, Trinity College Oxford, Bibliothèque nationale.

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