Saturday, January 19, 2013

Another Odd Find

Another moment of bookshop browsing fate: The book from which the above comes was very unprepossessing from the outside with no jacket, in publisher's brown cloth and by the time I was opening it I hadn't even looked to see what it was. The handwriting of the inscription is so distinctive that I knew before turning to the title page who the "author" in question was (brownie points to those who are also having immediate flashes of recognition) so it was then no surprise to find I was holding the 1933 first edition of H. M. Stanley by A. J. A. Symons, the great star in the firmament of Baron Corvo studies for his groundbreaking The Quest For Corvo: clearly it was some Corvine vibration which drew my hand to the small volume in a provincial bookshop.

Handwriting was important to Symons and this is his usual hand but he was capable, when the mood took him, of amazing calligraphic flourishes in his inscriptions. He was also, by some accounts, a skilled forger, and whilst no one has suggested he created forgeries to deceive  he was known to demonstrate his ability to write in other peoples' hands and to sign the names of famous people as a little party piece.

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