[San Francisco]: Privately Printed [by Lawton Kennedy], 1929. Limited Edition. Hardcover. One of 40 copies, unnumbered, duodecimo size, 32 pp. Fine. Item #19052032
Mark Twain (1835-1910), story-teller extraordinaire, wrote this "short risqué squib"and published it anonymously in 1880, not acknowledging it as his work until 1906. Due to the obscenity laws in place until the mid-20th century the book continued to be privately printed during the first half of the century, this being one such. With a short afterword giving a short history of the book's publication, which includes a short letter by Mark Twain addressed to a "Mr. Orr", dated July 30, 1906, in which he states that his object was "an attempt to reveal...the picturesqueness of parlor conversation in Elizabeth's time; if there is a decent word findable in it, it is because I overlooked it."
By our standards today the work is hardly obscene; it is "more ribaldry than pornography; its content was more in the nature of irreverent and vulgar comedic shock than obscenity" (n.b., per Wiki). Formed as a recounting of a conversation overheard by a lady in waiting to Queen Elizabeth in the year 1601, the conversation centers around the topics of sex, flatuence, and proper etiquette. Some of the participants in the conversation include William Shakespeare or "Shaxpur" in the account, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Walter Raleigh, Ben Johnson and Francis Bacon, along with several women of lower nobility.
This version with four charming coloured, slightly erotic illustrations, by W.R. (William Ross) Cameron (1893-1971); although born in New York City, Cameron moved to San Francisco by 1917 where he studied at the California school of Arts and Crafts. He started his career as a freelance illustrator, and by 1930 was exhibiting his work nationally. He was known for his miniature watercolours of the Bay Area, and these illustrations have the sense of the miniaturist with their detailed lines and lovely colours. (n.b., information from Edan Milton Hughes' "Artists in California, 1786-1940".)
___DESCRIPTION: Gold paper boards, gold cloth shelfback, paper spine label with black lettering, ivory laid paper endpapers, frontispiece and three other illustrations in colour, title page in red and black with a small illustration of (presumably) either Queen Elizabeth or the lady-in-waiting, limitation page follows stating a printing of forty copies for "this illustrated version", four two-line red initial capital letters throughout; laid paper with the watermark "France", duodecimo size (approximately 6 5/8" by 4 7/8"), pagination: [i] [ii - blank] [iii] [iv - blank], (1) (2 - blank) (3) (4 - blank) 5 to 28 which includes the afterword and short letter from Twain as set forth above.
___CONDITION: Fine, with clean boards, the corners straight and unrubbed, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, and free of prior owner markings; the endpapers lightly toned, else fine; a lovely example.
___CITATION: Meine no. 24, variant binding (the bibliography describes "greenish-gray boards, blue cloth back").
___POSTAGE: International customers please note that additional postage may apply; please inquire for details.
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