(In preparation of opening a new money-making website soon on the subject of rare books, CCLaP has recently become an affiliate seller at eBay; so we will now be doing weekly recommendations of other interesting book sales taking place there besides just our own, grouped by an interesting theme or subject each week. Please be aware that when you click on one of these particular links and then maybe end up buying the book, CCLaP receives a percentage of that sale as a commission for recommending it.)
This week: Victorian bad boys
The Modernist Era tried its darndest to repaint the Victorian Period as a time of backwards suppression and old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, mostly as a reaction to the "Genteel" times at the very end that really were like this; but before that was almost a century of sexual experimentation, scientific breakthroughs, proto-feminism and Romantic art, a time of boundary-pushing that led humanity directly into the contemporary world we live in now. Today, a look at five artists who really pushed those boundaries more than most others, and recommendations of great old books on sale at eBay that are associated with them.
Oscar Wilde. You can't have a list of Victorian bad boys without him, and in many eyes he encompasses the entire age perfectly -- a witty Irish gay man who flaunted his sexuality at a time when doing such a thing could land you in jail (which, indeed, is exactly what happened to him), like nearly everyone on today's list, Wilde embraced the tropes of the then brand-new Romanticism fully to the hilt, celebrated for his eccentricities even then and with his reputation having continually soared since. Try this first edition of his for $500 from Rain Dog Books; or for the truly dedicated, why not a first edition of his most famous work (and one of his only full-length narrative books), for a cool $3,600 or best offer from Burnside Rare Books.
Dante Rossetti. One of the founders of the "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood," this movement of painters and writers believed literally that no good art had been made since the Renaissance artist Raphael, and called for a freer, more colorful, much more naturalistic style of creativity right in the same years that the Impressionists were doing the same thing way over on the opposite tip of Europe. Rossetti is making the list today because he once buried all his unpublished poetry in the coffin of his unexpectedly dead young hot wife, Elizabeth Siddal (as big a part of the Pre-Raphaelite mythology as any of the artists themselves), then when he changed his mind he literally dug up his wife's corpse in order to retrieve them again. Check out this , on sale for $250 from Rain Dog Books.
Algernon Swinburne. Yet another of the Pre-Raphaelites, the short and odd Swinburne got in a lot of trouble for the libertine lifestyle he advocated in his writing, although no less than H.P. Lovecraft called him the "only real poet" society had seen since the death of Edgar Allen Poe. Try out this first edition, first printing of his 1867 book , for $350 or best offer at J&J House Books.
Aubrey Beardsley. About as tragically Romantic as tragically Romantic artists get, this celebrated but controversial illustrator literally died of consumption at the age of 25 (died of consumption! at 25!), but not before having a heavy hand in the establishment of the "Aesthetic" movement in visual arts, and causing all kinds of ruckus for his sexually explicit yet highly stylized posters and drawings. For those on a smaller budget, try this original printing of , featuring a profile of Beardsley and a custom Christmas card he designed for the issue, for around $200 or best offer from Fine Art Detail; or for those with a larger budget, don't pass up this first edition of the project he's most known for, a two-volume edition of (The Death of King Arthur), including their original wrappers, for $3,000.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton. And okay, perhaps I'm having a bit of fun with you regarding this last writer; because I mean Bulwer-Lytton to fall on the "bad" side of "bad boy" today, an insanely popular author among his contemporary audiences (who outsold Stephen King when he was alive) but now famous for being considered among many the "Very Worst Writer of the Entire Victorian Age." He is the coiner, however, of such now famous phrases as "the great unwashed," "the pen is mightier than the sword," and the infamous "it was a dark and stormy night," and is absolutely worth collecting despite whatever actual literary quality there might be to his individual work. Try this Lytton once wrote to a "Miss Crump" thanking her for her recent unsolicited submissions of work, for just $175 from David J. Holmes Autographs.