CROWLEY, Aleister

Olla: An Anthology of Sixty Years of Song

Great Britain, First Impressions Series, 1992.

£850

Limited Edition (copy No. 26 of 50). Folio, pp. 128, first title within floral border and vignette, second title reproduced from the first edition. Quarter black morocco, buckram over boards, marbled pastedowns. A reprint of Olla with an introduction by John Symonds and the latter’s corrections in red pen to his preface. Olla is a limited edition of Crowley’s poems (only 500 copies and 20 on mould-made paper), first published by the O.T.O. in 1946 in London with “a dust-jacket by Frieda Harris and a frontispiece by Augustus John, R.A.”. As Symonds states in his foreword, “I played a small part in the production of Olla for I read the proofs, and I urged the Master to expunge one poem which I thought in bad taste: he agreed to remove it. And I played a larger part in the sale of the work…”, a.e.g.

SYMONDS, John [with] BOSWELL, James [DRAWINGS]

THE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF “CONVERSATIONS WITH GERALD”

SYMONDS, John [with] BOSWELL, James. Conversation with Gerald (Symonds’ book on Gerald Hamilton with the original illustrations by Boswell).

London, Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd, 1974.

£8250

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 211; ill. (10 full-page illustrations, 4 small vignettes). Original illustrated dust jacket. A fine autobiographical account of Gerald Hamilton, detailing conversations between the writer and Hamilton, “The wickedest man in Europe”, who shared accommodation with Aleister Crowley, “The wickedest man in the world”, in 1931 in Berlin. Hamilton is not only well known for his rocambolesque and bizarre life as a spy, communist sympathiser and undercover agent infiltrated within several political and military organisations, but also thanks to Christopher Isherwood’s character of Arthur Norris of Mr Norris Changes Trains (1935). Hamilton derived from this the title for his own memoir, Mr Norris and I, which was published in 1956. The present copy is inscribed by the author and dedicated to the German scholar Michael Hamburger on the front fly: “Michael / in admiration and affection / John S. / 5 January 1986”.

Conversation with Gerald is illustrated with a set of 13 captivating drawings, whose titles are the following (full-page format unless otherwise stated): Gerald as Mr Norris (p. ii, frontispiece); Gerald and Crowley with the Scarlet Woman (p. vii); A visit to the Master (p. 17); Gerald as a Wine and Food man (p. 21); Gerald and his decorations (p. 25); Gerald with cona (p. 39, small vignette); Gerald Pasha (p. 51); Gerald with Georg Skrzydlewski (p. 65); “Young people cheer him up” (p. 117, small vignette); At Genoa station (p. 127); Le Chambertin de Gerald Hamilton. Brixton (p. 145, small vignette); Gerald chez Dahlberg (p. 155); Gerald as cook (p. 175).

BOSWELL’S DRAWINGS. Ink drawings, most on hand-made paper, in a large and elegant green Solander box lettered in gilt on front cover. A collection of 7 out of the 13 original drawings (Gerald as Mr Norris, Gerald and Crowley with the Scarlet Woman, Gerald as a Wine and Food man, Gerald and his decorations, Gerald with cona, Gerald with Georg Skrzydlewski, Gerald as cook), plus a few preparatory sketches and an unpublished drawing. 6 large drawings (ca 17×11 inch.); 4 medium-sized drawings (ca 15.5×11.5); 1 medium-sized drawing on standard paper (ca 9×14.5 inch.); 1 small drawing (ca 7×11 inch.); 1 small drawing on standard paper (ca 8×8 inch.); two photographic reproductions.

Artist James Boswell (1906-71) made these drawings shortly before his death. Boswell “became a leader of a school of social satirists, whose influence is still felt today. He was a founder member of the Artists International Association, and of the artists who gave Left Review its cutting edge. Throughout his creative life he exercised a gift for satiric comment, comic invention, and the recording of the passing moment. Some of his vivid drawings of army life are in the Imperial War Museum and the British Museum.” (Conversation with Gerald, pp. 210-11). Moreover, he was art editor of Lilliput.

CROWLEY, Aleister [DRAWING]

CROWLEY, Aleister. Charcoal drawing, ca. 51 x 34 cm.

£22500

View of the Tyrrhenian Sea, probably from the hill behind the abbey of Thelema, Cefalù, Sicily, 1921. Signed with Crowley’s phallic initial A, the number 17 and the astrological symbol of Aries. According to the thelemic calendar, which starts in 1904, the year 1921 was the 17thyear of the Aeon of Thelema. The symbol allows one to place this work sometime between March 20 and April 21.

SYMONDS, John

TWO PRESENTATION COPIES ON THE LIFE OF CROWLEY

SYMONDS, John. The Great Beast. The Life of Aleister Crowley [with] Id., The King of the Shadow Realm

London, Rider and Company, 1951; London, Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd, 1989.

£1650

FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. 316, ill.. AUTHOR’S PRESENTATION COPY inscribed on verso of front flyleaf: “For Michael Hamburger, / the fruit of our many discussions, from / John. Oct 26, ‘51”. Bound in blue cloth, gilt title to spine. Original dust jacket overall in good condition: edges, hinges lightly rubbed and worn, just a few little marginal tears.

This is the first of four biographical books by John Symonds (1914-2006) on the notorious English occultist Aleister Crowley: the man who inspired the Beatles, the beat generation and fostered Western magic and Eastern esotericism. It was Symonds who introduced readers to ‘The Great Beast’. The writer met Crowley shortly before he died and was named his literary executor. He was fascinated, yet quite critical of his subject, leading Crowley’s personal secretary Israel Regardie to label him ‘that most hostile biographer’. The present work has an inscribed dedication to Michael Hamburger OBE (1924-2007), a noted British translator, poet, critic, memoirist and academic of German literature. The two friends visited Crowley when he was at Netherwood in Hastings, as another Symonds inscription testifies to. Our copy of his The King of the Shadow Realm bears the following dedication to Hamburger: “Michael / in memory of our visit to the Beast 666 / John / September 1989”.

SYMONDS, John

JOHN SYMONDS’ HOLOGRAPH COPY ON THE LIFE OF CROWLEY

SYMONDS, John. The King of the Shadow Realm

London, Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd, 1989.                                                                      

£13500

8vo, pp. x [ii] 558. Paperback, worn. Copy with author’s revisions of “The King of the Shadow Realm”, to be retitled “The Beast 666” (1996). Symonds’ pen notes, corrections and typed paste-ins found extensively throughout. A magnificent Solander box, sumptuously bound in full red morocco gilt with a stylised portrait of Crowley and his inimitable signature on the front cover. Gilt spine in 5 compartments with raised bands, stamped title and the unicursal hexagram, one of the important symbols in Thelema, probably derived from Blaise Pascal’s Hexagrammum Mystichum.

Symonds’ own corrected copy for the fourth edition of his biography of Aleister Crowley, to be entitled “The Beast 666”. The first and second editions (1951 and 1971) had been called “The Great Beast”, while the third (1989) was titled “The King of the Shadow Realm”. The work was described by Colin Wilson as “a kind of appalling classic”, as it illustrated Crowley’s absolute depravity.

CROWLEY, Aleister

CROWLEY, Aleister. The Stratagem and Other Stories

London, The Mandrake Press, [1929].                                                                                         

£350

FIRST EDITION. Small 8vo, pp. (i-viii) 9-139 (cxl: imprint), original boards decorated with gold and black scales in a snake skin pattern, black cloth spine with white paper label. Binding very slightly bowed; book and dust jacket in near-to-perfect condition. A fine copy.

This is Crowley’s only collection of short fiction, which includes “The Testament of Magdalen Blair”: “a description of after death experiences as the brain decays one of the most horrible stories ever written.” Sullivan (ed.), The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural, pp. 106-07; “a remarkable achievement, as one of the most unpleasant stories in the genre.” Bleiler, The Guide to Supernatural Fiction, p. 457.

CROWLEY, Aleister

CROWLEY, AleisterMoonchild. A Prologue

London, The Mandrake Press, 1929.                                                                                        

£325

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. Original sea-green cloth, titles to spine gilt. On half title: “with best wishes from Hamood Rahman”. A very good copy without dust jacket, just some chipping along cover edges and very light marginal age toning throughout.

CROWLEY, Aleister

CROWLEY, AleisterMoonchild. A Prologue

London, The Mandrake Press, 1929.

£375

FIRST EDITION. 8vo. Original sea-green cloth, titles to spine gilt. Text clean and crisp, flawless. A perfect copy without dust jacket.

CROWLEY, Aleister

CROWLEY, Aleister. The Fun of the Fair (Nijni Novgorod, 1913 e.v.)

Published by Rancho RoyAL, Barstow (Cal., USA) & London, Published by the O.T.O., 1942. 

£550

FIRST LIMITED EDITION, no. 169 of 200 copies signed by the author (this copy is unsigned; Crowley only signed half of the edition). 8vo, pp. 24. Original grey wrappers lettered in red. Light marginal toning to covers. Frontispiece portrait of the author by Cambyses Daguerre Churchill. A fine copy, complete with the initial errata slip and the final mimeographed poem “Landed Gentry”.

The Fun of the Fair is Crowley’s vibrant poem describing the Nizhni Novgorod Fair, a famous yearly major trade event held from mid-C16th up to about 1929 in Russia, which attracted merchants from India, Iran and Central Asia. “Crowley ceremoniously published The Fun of the Fair at 11.31 a.m. on 22 December [1942]. One of its first buyers was Ivan Maiskii, Soviet ambassador. The Fun of the Fair’s publication nearly thirty years after composition in 1913 was apparently an attempt to persuade people that the new Russian ally was not going to eat them. Or was it published to persuade others that Crowley was sympathetic towards Russia? The Fun of the Fair had a sting in its tail. Having failed to get Britain’s only communist MP, George Gallagher, to read it in the House, Crowley put his scathing attack on the snobbish hypocrites who obstructed victory at the end of the booklet: ‘The “Landed” Gentry’.” (Tobias Churton, “Aleister Crowley The Biography:…”, 2011, p. 399). Only few copies were issued with this poem, which, with its virulent anti-establishment aim was rebuffed by a number of printers. Crowley then hit upon the idea of having a mainstream printer – the Chiswick Press – produce the book, while having a jobbing printer produce “The Landed Gentry”. He then had the poem tipped-in to the back cover of some copies. On Crowley’s life, see John Symonds’ “The Great Beast”.

CROWLEY, Aleister et al.

THE METHOD OF SCIENCE, THE AIM OF RELIGION: AN INITIATION GUIDE

CROWLEY, Aleister et al.. The Equinox (Vol. I, Nos I-X).

£5500

FIRST EDITION. 4to, Vol. I: No. 1: Spring 1909. Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd; No. 2: Autumn 1909. Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd; No. 3: Spring 1910. Privately published, London; No. 4: Autumn 1910. Privately published, London; No. 5: Spring 1911. Privately published, London; No. 6: Autumn 1911. Wieland & Co.; No. 7: Spring 1912. Wieland & Co.; No. 8: Autumn 1912. Wieland & Co.; No. 9: Spring 1913. Wieland & Co.; No. 10: Autumn 1913. Wieland & Co.. Ex libris of Leon M. Hurtado. Occasional pencil underlining. Light toning, browning and age yellowing. Bound in quarter linen and paper over boards. Nos I, III and X rebacked with attempt to preserve parts of the fragile original spines. Some minor wearing and rubbing on covers and corners. Titles on paper label to spine, some small fragments torn. An excellent and complete set.

Volume number one of “The Equinox”, or the Review of Scientific Illuminism, a series of publications in book form that served as the official organ of the A∴A (a magical order founded by Aleister Crowley), published biannually between 1909 and 1913. This set is the “Standard” issue, which comprised an edition of 1000 copies for the early numbers, and about 500 for the later dates. Crowley was the editor and principal author of most of the “The Equinox”, a compilation of esoteric poetry, fiction, and reviews, alongside a number of articles of occult instruction. It is widely acknowledged as one of the landmarks of occult literature, and comprises ten huge volumes – over 4000 pages – including numerous colour and black and white illustrations, tables etc.