Non-Fiction of Gay Interest
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(The) Venice Letters
Baron Corvo (Frederick Rolfe)
Publisher: Cecil & Amelia Woolf
London, UK


1974 1st edition       
Cover / size: Hardback/ h 24.6 cm * w 16 cm / 80pp

Dustjacket?   yes

ISBN: 0900821078

Arbery Ref:   001047

Condition Good

Jacket (in mylar cover): unclipped; slight wear to edges, most noticeable to foot of front; some discolouring / slight staining, particularly foot; thin white strip on back (paint? tippex?). Boards (blue with gold lettering): two corners and bottom edges slightly dented; slight fading along top, wider faded band along bottom; page edges dusty. Erased pencil notes on half-title page. Page 29/30 has thick crease (printing error) mirrored in adjoining leaves. Short pencil note on page 79. Ink note on page near end and page rubbed thin where a short note has been erased.

Price £40.00
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Baron Corvo: Venice Letters


"Baron Corvo's notorious Venice Letters are among the few intimate and revealing documents of any writer to remain unpublished in full. Corvo's extraordinary descriptions of his homosexual - or, more accurately, pederastic - activities in Venice are given in direct language, in detail, and with utter honesty, in this correspondence with his friend Masson Fox in England. Amadeo, who stripped laughing in a sleepy wine-shop, Piero, 'like a white flash' in his eagerness in a charcoal-warmed inn bedroom at snowy Burano, and other 'young Venetians poised on lofty poops out on the white lagoon' are portrayed with a fine spontaneity and freedom. As Pamela Hansford Johnson has written of the Venice Letters, 'there really is something splendid, almost mythological, about their ramping sexuality; it was so extremely wholehearted, as everything about him was'.

"But the letters are not only an addition to sensual literature; they also describe the unpleasant social behaviour of the declining English colony in Venice in the years 1909-1910, and Corvo's life of hardship and starvation in the bitter Venice winters. In doing so, they describe the true selves of the people whom Rolfe satirised with such cruelty and accuracy in his novel The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole. That novel (whose title was intended as a pun) can now, with the publication of the venice Letters, be seen as a brilliant imaginative extension of both his daily life and of his homosexual activities.

(from the jacket)

Background / Biography:

Frederick Rolfe / Baron Corvo

Frederick William Rolfe, who gave himself the title Baron Corvo, and who also called himself 'Frederick William Serafino Austin Lewis Mary Rolfe', (22 July 1860 - 25 October 1913), was a writer, artist, photographer and eccentric.

for more biographical details and books by / about Rolfe from Arbery Books, click here
Frederick Rolfe

from the jacket of this book:

"Frederick William Rolfe (1860 - 1913), who adopted the title 'Baron Corvo', was born in Cheapside, London, and died in Venice. He was a talented, eccentric: writer, painter, photographer, musician, schoolmaster, student priest. He became a Catholic at twenty-six but was twice refused the priesthood. Later he turned to writing - his best-known works are Hadrian the Seventh, a semi-autobiographical novel on which Peter Luke's play is based: Stories Toto Told Me; Chronicles of the House of Borgia and The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole. Corvo himself once wrote: 'One day posterity will be interested in my letters and in everything I have written.'"


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