Book 4, Part I [ Book Four Part 1 ]. Aleister CROWLEY, Mary D'ESTE STURGES, Frater Perdurabo, Soror Virakam.
Book 4, Part I [ Book Four Part 1 ].
Book 4, Part I [ Book Four Part 1 ].

Book 4, Part I [ Book Four Part 1 ].

London: Wieland, ND (1912 ). First Edition. Small, square octavo (5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches), x + 94pp (+2pp. adverts), 2 photographic illustrations. Original yellow printed cloth over limp boards, black treated cloth spine. A first issue of the First Edition of the first volume, on mysticism, of Crowley's magnum opus, "Book 4". Only 500 copies were printed of this first issue, which has the publisher's address given as "3 Great James Street, Bedford Row." This copy additionally has a rare New York US distributor's label: see further below. The volume is in its original distinctive "flashing binding" and is unusual example of the book as talismanic object, with the design by Crowley also reflecting the (itself symbolic) number 4: a theme carried through from the square shape; 4 equal sides; to the original prices, 4 groats and 4 tanners respectively, and the intended 4 volumes of the series (although only two were issued in this format). WITH TWO OWNERSHIP SIGNATURES & ANNOTATIONS BY CROWLEY ASSOCIATE H. SHERIDAN-BICKERS. Like Crowley, Horace Algernon Sheridan-Bickers (1883-1957) attended Cambridge University, where he studied law. The two met and Sheridan-Bickers became an early member of Crowley's A.'. A.'. taking the name "Superabo" ("I will excel"), when he signed the Oath of a Probationer on July 23, 1909. Sheridan-Bickers was a successful lecturer, journalist, and editor who apparently had an "eye for the ladies" - in a note written in 1912 Crowley described him as a "sex-maniac." A year or two later he moved to British Columbia, and then on to California, where he settled in Hollywood, working as a screen writer, journalist and critic. He remained in touch with Crowley, sometimes acting as his defacto agent, and it was he who introduced a young actress named Jane Wolfe to Crowley's writings. Oddly it was Sheridan-Bickers' wife, Betty, who in London in 1922, introduced the ill-fated Raoul Loveday to Crowley. Sheridan-Bickers crops up in a number of Crowley's works: Crowley dedicated the poem Au Bal published in "The Winged Beetle" to him, and he appears masked by the name "Gnaggs" in what Richard Kaczynski eloquently described as "a long and obscure story about jealousy and herpes" in "The Confessions." Sheridan-Bickers clearly acquired this copy of "Book 4" in the United States, as it has a tipped in label advertising the availability of copies of Part II from a fellow A.'. A.'. member Raphael Grieff at a New York address, who is described as "Agent for the United States." A single leaf, pp. vii/viii has been deliberately excised, presumably because the only text on it was a note with out-of-date contact information for aspirants wishing to get in touch with Crowley. Sheridan-Bickers has signed the volume both on the front pastedown and the half-title page, each time with both his "civvy" and magical names and "Order of A.'. A.'." He has written two addresses (one in Hollywood) on the front pastedown, and pencilled that of the Author's Club in London (presumably where he stayed when visiting) on the title-page. There are also some pencil notes, in what is almost certainly his handwriting, on about a dozen pages. Most recently from the collection of Clive Harper with his discreet 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 cloth spine is chipped at the head and tail and fraying at the edges, and the covers are darkened and rubbed. The two blanks at the front of the book are lacking, and the inner margins of the first two leaves have been clumsily reinforced with tape. The address leaf neatly excised as noted above. Corners bruised, page edges darkened. Obviously a much used volume in Good only condition, but still a very rare example from New York distribution, with a fascinating provenance. Item #66018

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