My Dear KJ... The Letters of Frederick Rolfe to Charles Kains-Jackson
Callum James Books, Portsmouth: 2015. 74pp. Octavo softcover.
£10 (publisher's special price) + £3 p&p (UK), £4 (EU), £5 (Rest of World)
The Blurb: "In 1889, the small town of Christchurch on the South Coast of England was a sleepy neighbour to the booming Victorian seaside resort of Bournemouth. It was here that, somewhat wearied from two failed attempts to complete his vocational training for the Catholic priesthood, a writer and artist of no great achievement called Frederick Rolfe, now calling himself Baron Corvo, came to live for a few years.I quite often begin posts like this by saying that I am "delighted to announce", in this instance, given it is nearly six year since I started working on editing this series of letters, "relieved to announce" would also be appropriate. The book contains 17 letters from Rolfe to Kains-Jackson written during Rolfe's stay in Christchurch. There is an introduction which sets the letters in context and the letters are annotated. In an appendix I have added seven previously unpublished poems by Kains-Jackson from his commonplace books including his 'obituary poems' for such figures are Lionel Johnson, Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and Ernest Dowson.
Rolfe went on to become one of the most idiosyncratic novelists of nineteenth and twentieth century, attracting a loyal following of readers and collectors who value his eccentricity of language and the unique vision of his fiction. It was during his time in Christchurch that Rolfe wrote the letters in this current volume to a London solicitor called Charles Kains-Jackson, who was close to the whole of the 1890s 'set' as an editor and contributor to magazines.
These letters are one side of a correspondence unusual at this time because they are between two gay men, comfortable with their own and each other's sexuality. They range across art, poetry, religion, current affairs and a good dose of gossip. Rolfe is witty, outrageous, camp and insightful by turns."
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