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.
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decorations, Gerald with cona, Gerald with Georg Skrzydlewski, Gerald as cook), plus a few preparatory sketches and an unpublished drawing. 6 large drawings (ca 17×11 inch.); 4 medium-sized drawings (ca 15.5×11.5); 1 medium-sized drawing on standard paper (ca 9×14.5 inch.); 1 small drawing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.