Aleister Crowley Manuscripts at Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s Auction: English Literature & History
Sale: L07405 | Location: London, New Bond Street
Auction Dates: Session 1: Thu, 12 Jul 07 10:30 AM

For those of you with lots of spare money: There are two bound manuscripts of the Old Man for sale, “The Soul of Osiris” and “The Mother’s Tragedy”, final drafts with extensive revisions. Also for sale: A heavily inscribed “Konx Om Pax”.

LOT 123
1,000—1,500 GBP

DESCRIPTION: 4to (191 x 157mm), first edition, number 130 of 500 signed copies, long autograph inscription by crowley on front endpaper, title-page printed in red and black, photogravure frontispiece portrait of Crowley, original white buckram, with intricate highly stylized title design of book’s title stamped in gilt to upper board, boards slightly marked

PROVENANCE: Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002), artist

CATALOGUE NOTE: The long authorial inscription dated 19 January 1909 to an anonymous recipient provides an illuminating insight into the production of this collection of poetry, plays and essays. Crowley refers to the book’s binding (“much better than the previous effort”: the first 250 or so copies had been bound in black buckram) and cost (“I am putting up the cost to 10 shillings… why this book was so very expensive to produce I don’t know – but it was!).

LOT 124
15,000—20,000 GBP

DESCRIPTION: i) “The Soul of Osiris”, a collection of poems with prose preface, final drafts with extensive revisions, in a range of inks including red, black, and purple, pencil, some pages in typescript, with title-page including erased alternate title and printer’s notes, divisional titles, various sizes but chiefly 4to, 151 pages, in modern red morocco by Zaehnsdorf, inside dentelles, slip case, preface dated City of Mexico, Jan 7, 1901, one page of typescript loose, some pages folded to fit within covers. ii) “The Mother’s Tragedy”, poetry and verse drama with prose preface and short essay (“An Essay upon the Nature, Methods, and aims of Tragedy”), final drafts with extensive revisions, in a range of inks including red, black, and pencil, a few typescript pages, occasional notes for typist, with title-page, various sizes but chiefly 4to, 165 pages, in modern blue-green morocco by Zaehnsdorf, silk endpapers, slip case, preface dated City of Mexico, Jan 7, 1901, some pages folded to fit within covers

PROVENANCE: Robert Lenkiewicz, artist (1941-2002)

CATALOGUE NOTE:”This book is the History of every Soul. Symbols and Names may change: but the Truth that lies below is of the All-Truth. This History is written in blood: it is no bird’s eye view of the Pilgrim’s Progress, seen by a dweller of the Land of Beulah: every page was at the moment of its being written, the actual expression of the heart’s desire…” Crowley’s heavily revised manuscripts of two interconnected literary works, and the most important crowley literary manuscripts to appear at auction in many years. These are among the earliest of his works to incorporate the occult teaching of the Order of the Golden Dawn, and were written in the years following his initiation into the order, largely during his travels in Mexico and Asia. These volumes gather together manuscripts written at various times using different paper (from ruled notepaper to headed stationery of various London hotels) and different writing utensils. Despite Crowley’s claim quoted above that his poems captured a moment of profound experience, the deletions and revisions found throughout these manuscripts show that he regularly revised his works. The Soul of Osiris and The Mother’s Tragedy were issued as companion volumes in 1901 (Crowley has originally intended that they should form a single work), either from these manuscripts or from typescripts directly derived from them. These manuscripts contain most but not all of the poems found in the printed volumes, the most significant exception being the poem ‘Jezebel’. The Soul of Osiris is divided into four parts: The Court of the Profane, the Gate of the Sanctuary, The Holy Place, and The Holy of Holies. In 1905 the two volumes were reworked by Crowley into The Temple of the Holy Ghost. This incorporated the sectional titles of The Soul of Osiris, but included most of the poems from both of the earlier volumes albeit in a different order.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments