Monday, May 10, 2010

Raven 11: Cigars and Tree Carvings

If this blog has been a little quiet of late then this is one of the reasons why. The last couple of weeks have been taken up printing, sewing, binding and putting the finishing touches to the elventh in the Raven series of monographs by Robert Scoble on the life and work of Frederick Rolfe. The blurb is pasted below but in essence this essay is about Rolfe as a teacher and gives new details of the relationship between Rolfe and three of his most interesting pupils, all of whom went on to lead very significant lives in their own ways.

Callum James Books is going to be having something of a bumper year in 2010 as there are a large number of projects in hand and about to come to fruition. I wouldn't be surprised if there is something like one new title a month for the next little while.

Raven Eleven: Cigars and Tree Carvings
by Robert Scoble

Over the two decades of Frederick Rolfe's adult life prior to his embrace of writing as his profession, such salaries as he was able to earn came principally from teaching, first as an under-master in a succession of schools, and later as a tutor to private pupils.

Rolfe was an intelligent man, with an absorbent mind and a surprising range of practical accomplishments. He was musically proficient, fond of the outdoors, and a watchful student of human behaviour. These attributes, combined with his inexhaustible resourcefulness in proposing and planning new entertainments and iconoclastic topics of conversation, made him a memorable teacher.

This latest addition to the Raven Series traces the stories of three of Rolfe's pupils: Lawrence Grant, later to achieve a measure of fame as a Hollywood character actor; Malcolm Hay, who went on to contribute importantly to British intelligence in World War I; and Leo Schwarz, future pillar of the Catholic community and papal knight.

Each of these three left a detailed account of their time with Rolfe, recalling happy memories of him, and from their fascinating stories an aspect of his personality emerges which has largely been missed by his biographers: his skill as a stimulating and confident teacher.

The Raven Series has been planned as a set of fifteen scholarly essays which will add substantially to our knowledge of the life and work of Frederick Rolfe. Each essay is being published in a strictly limited edition, and there is little doubt that complete sets of the fifteen monographs will be sought after by collectors in the years to come.

Of a full edition of 70, the first 12 copies of Cigars and Tree Carvings constitute the special state, case bound in Russian green paper-covered boards with gilt titles, and signed by the author. The special state of this title also includes a facsimile of a Rolfe letter not present in the oridinary state. Numbers 13-70 form the ordinary state of the edition, and are sewn into Russian green card covers with a paper label and acetate wrappers.

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