27 June 2007

Despised and Rejected (1918)

A. T. Fitzroy. DESPISED AND REJECTED. (Pseudonym of Rose Laure Allantini Scott). C. W. Daniel, London. No date (circa 1918).

Current Selling Prices
$1250-$2000 /£650-£1000

Landmark book in the canon of gay and lesbian literature and a noted rarity in first edition. A long novel with pacifist overtones, this + its sympathetic treatment of the two overtly gay and lesbian main characters caused its immediate seizure on publication and banning in a subsequent court case in which the publisher was fined 160 pounds. Photo above shows a court convened to examine the claims of pacifists in WW1.The novel reveals inner knowledge of London pacifist and socialist circles in WWi and also deals with the self discoveries of a gay man and a gay woman and links the persecution of gays, pacifists and Jews.

Reprinted several times in recent years, modern critical opinion considers the author, the wife of the gay composer Cyril Scott, to have written the novel as a counter blast to inimicable portrayals of homosexuality in D. H. Lawrence’s “The Rainbow” and other novels of the period.

A.T. Fitzroy was the pseudomym of Rose Laure Allantini who was born in Vienna to a Polish mother and an Italian father, but was brought up in England. She left home to become a writer. In 1921 she married fellow occultist and composer Cyril Scott with whom she had a son and a daughter. During that time she published one novel under her married name. In 1941 Allantini and Scott separated, and she went to Rye to live there with Melanie Mills. Between 1941 and 1978 she published some thirty novels under the pseudonym Eunice Buckley, one of several she used, as did Melanie Mills, also a writer. Some are said to be tinged with mysticism, lesbian references and re-incarnation.

Her main claim to fame in the pantheon of lesbian and gay writers rests on this novel which, after the obscenity trial, was withdrawn from the market until its reprint in 1988.

VALUE? A 'sleeper' that I feel slightly bad about awakening but what the heck. In 1918 all unsold copies were destroyed by court order and the book is decidely scarce. We sold our last copy for nigh on £1000 3 years ago and described it thus:
'8vo. 350 pages. First edition. Hardback. Slight fading at spine, faint coffee ring to front board else a clean, very good copy of a poorly-produced war-time book.'
There was a vogue at the time for vintage gay literature and a few well heeled players in the market. I have seen other copies since offered at £1000+ and they appear to have sold possibly against an inferior sounding copy that was listed at circa £2000, making cheaper but nicer copies look attractive. No idea what happened to the exorbitant copy and must assume it sold - possibly severely discounted. The number of punters for firsts at full strength prices must be limited. Also it is possible that the wave has broken for the book, certainly no other work by her is worth more than about £50. [ W/Q ** ]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thats intense.
im a lesbian.