The Works of Aleister Crowley [ The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley ] (3 Volumes in 1). Aleister CROWLEY.
The Works of Aleister Crowley [ The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley ] (3 Volumes in 1).

The Works of Aleister Crowley [ The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley ] (3 Volumes in 1).

Foyers: Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, 1907. Essay Competition Issue / Traveller's Edition. Hardcover, Three volumes in one, each with separate title page. Octavo, Vol. I: x + 270pp, Vol, II: viii (+ 2) + 282pp, Vol: III viii + 248pp. Original gilt stamped white buckram on limp boards. Printed on fine India paper. Top edge gilt, other edges untrimmed. The "Traveller's Edition" variant of the single volume limp buckram version of the "Essay Competition" issue of "The Collected Works" (the words "Essay Competition Copy" are printed on the page facing the title page). This edition was simply produced (without plates) for rapid distribution to anyone planning on entering the competition for the best essay on his own works, which Crowley was then running. The competition was famously won by J. F. C. Fuller - said to have been the only entrant - although contrary to popular lore Crowley, who was still flush with funds at the time, did pay him the promised cash prize. The title on each of the title-pages reads simply "The Works of Aleister Crowley" (with the Vol. number) but the set is commonly known as "The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley" which is the title as it appears on the front cover. "The Collected Works" basically gathered together most of Crowley's work that had been published up until the release of the third volume in 1907. It was edited by his friend, Ivor Back, who provided a short Preface to Vol. I. The contents was largely poetry and plays, although the set did include a magical essay, "Berashith",which was first published in 1903, and a number of previously unpublished or especially revised pieces, notably a lengthy "epilogue and dedication" entitled "Eleusis." For obvious reasons it omitted altogether Crowley's "obscene" works: "White Stains" and "Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden," and the dubious "Alexandra." It does, however, include "The Sword of Song", which has an Appendix (Ambrosi Magi Hortus Rosarum) the initial letters of some of the hanging notes of which spelled out indecencies, some of which are still considered unprintable. For this reason "The Collected Works" was cited in the "Looking Glass" libel trial of 1911, as indicative of Crowley's immorality. Curiously there are two issues of the "limp buckram essay competition edition" of "The Collected Works." In this issue the title-page of each volume has the (same) publication year 1907, and the printed legend "Traveller's Edition" at the top of the page. The other issue is almost identical, but the title-page of each of the three volumes has the year in which it was originally published (1905, 1906 & 1907) and does not have the added text reading "Traveller's Edition." According to Crowley's first bibliographer, L. C. R. Duncombe-Jewell the entire print consisted of 1000 copies (plus one of vellum for Crowley's personal use). Given these 1000 copies were divided between at least 6 known contemporary variant issues / bindings all are comparatively scarce. From the collection of Clive Harper with his discrete book-label neatly tipped in at the rear. Harper is well-known as the bibliographer of Austin Osman Spare, for updating the Aleister Crowley bibliography in the 2011 Teitan Press collection of Gerald Yorke's writings, and as someone who has lent his expertise to numerous other publications. The label can easily be removed without affecting the page, although it would be a shame not to preserve this record of the book's provenance. Cloth lightly rubbed and with a few small marks, corners and edges a little bruised, as always with this edition, where the edges of the limp boards extend beyond the text block. Still, the white buckram is overall unusually clean, and the gilt titling quite bright. Some pale foxing to preliminaries and first and last couple of leaves. Still, overall a clean, unmarked VG + copy. Item #65082

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