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ACELDAMA


 

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Title:

Aceldama.  A Place to Bury Strangers In.  A Philosophical Poem by a Gentleman of the University of Cambridge.

   

 

Cover - State (c)

  

 

Rear - State (c)

 

 

Title Page - State (c)

 

 

Limitation Page
State (c)
 

 

Detail of Turned-In Wrapper - State (c)

Print
Variations:

State (a):

2 copies printed on thick vellum.1
Bound in a Japanese vellum turned-in wrapper repeating title-page.1
Upper cover lettered ‘ACELDAMA, | A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS IN. | A Philosophical Poem | BY | A GENTLEMAN OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE. | PRIVATELY PRINTED. | LONDON: | 1898’.1
Numbered 1 and 2.1
7 1/2” x 10”.1

______________________________


Copy No. 1 currently resides in the Gerald Yorke collection located in the Warburg Institute Library, University of London.  This copy is inscribed by Crowley to “A B” and it's believed that it was meant to be presented to Aubrey Beardsley.  Beardsley is said to have been referenced in stanza XXVII of Aceldama.16

This book was purchased by Yorke on 24 April 1952 from the bookseller George Frederick Sims for the price of £17/10/-.2

Rebound in the 1950's by Sangorski & Sutcliffe at the direction of George Frederick Sims in a reddish tan goatskin with  gilt top edge and Cockerell enpapers.3

7 1/2” x 9 7/8”.  The leaves are slightly smaller than when originally printed due to being trimmed by Sangorski prior to gilding the top edge.4.

________________________


Copy No. 2 currently resides in the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, in the Aleister Crowley Collection, Series I. Works, 1893-1974, Subseries B.  Poetry, 1893-1910, box 5, folder 8.12
Rebound in white vellum.  Upper cover board stamped in gilt with a crest with the Latin word “SPES” (Hope - motto on Crowley's family crest15).  Lower cover board stamped in gilt with a monogram of “M” surmounted by a crown.  Spine stamped in gilt up the spine ‘ALCEDAMA’.  Interior dentelles stamped in gilt.  Original Japanese vellum wrapper is Bound in at rear.12

7 1/2” x 10”.13

State (b):

10 copies printed on thick Japanese vellum.1
Bound in thin Japanese vellum turned-in wrapper repeating title-page.1
Upper cover lettered ‘ACELDAMA, | A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS IN. | A Philosophical Poem | BY | A GENTLEMAN OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE. | PRIVATELY PRINTED. | LONDON: | 1898’.1
Numbered 3-12.1
7 1/2” x 10”.1

______________________________


Copy No. 3 currently resides in the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (Call No. PR 6005 R7 A63 1898).  Rebound in full red morocco leather with interior dentelles.  Upper cover stamped in gilt with a crest with the Latin word “SPES” (Hope - motto on Crowley's family crest15).  Lower cover stamped in gilt with Crowley’s stylized monogram of “A C” surmounted by a crown.  Spine stamped in gilt up the spine ‘ALCEDAMA’.  Edges of the binding are embossed in gilt with with two parallel lines.  Marbled endpapers front and rear.  Original Japanese vellum wrapper is Bound in at rear.12
 

Copy No. 5 currently resides in the Gerald Yorke collection located in the Warburg Institute Library, University of London.  Rebound by Stoakley in dark red morocco leather, lettered in gold ACELDAMA within a border of triple gilt rules and with the date '1898' at the foot of the spine.5

 

Copy No. 6 currently resides in the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (Call No. PR 6005 R7 A63 1898).12

State (C):

88 copies printed on hand-made paper1 [by Abbey Mills, Greenfield.8]
Bound in a Japanese vellum turned-in wrapper repeating title-page.1
Upper cover lettered ‘ACELDAMA, | A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS IN. | A Philosophical Poem | BY | A GENTLEMAN OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE. | PRIVATELY PRINTED. | LONDON: | 1898’.1 
Numbered 13-100.1  Note:  Not all copies are numbered.12
7 5/8” x 5”.10

__________________


Copy No. 16 currently resides in a private collection and is inscribed by Crowley “To Leonard Smithers hys fyrst booke.”8

 

Copy # 23 belonged to Frater Achad (Charles Stansfeld Jones).14

 
Publisher: Leonard Charles Smithers.6  
Printer: Francis Edwin Murray.19 
Printed by an obscure printer in the Brompton-road, London.1
 
Published At: London.1  
Date: 1898.  Crowley in his “Confessions” states that the book was published in the [Cambridge] May term of 1898.  Timothy d'Arch Smith believes Crowley actually meant the Easter term beginning on 18 April.7  
Edition: 1st Edition.  
Pages: 32.1  

Price:

State (a) priced at 10/6.19

State (b) priced at 10/6.19

State (c) priced at 3/6.19

State (c) was sold privately at Cambridge University for a half-crown.18 
Copies sold later for 42 shillings.17 

 
Remarks: Published under the pseudonym of “A Gentleman of the University of Cambridge” presumably in honor of Shelley who published his St. Irvyne; or the Rosicrucian: a Romance as “a gentleman of the University of Oxford.”
“Most of the first twelve copies were additionally bound up in full vellum or morocco.”9
 
Pagination:

Applies to:
State (a) 11
and
State (b)13
Page(s)  
[  1] Half-title
[  2] Quotation from “Songs of the Spirit”, p. 13, Lines 1–4
[  3] Title-page
[  4] Quotation:  St. John xii, 24-25
[  5] Dedication
[  6] à toi
[  7] Preface
[  8] Quotation:  Acts I, 18-19
[  9] Fly-title
[10] Quotation from Swinburne’s ‘The Leper’
11-27 Text
[28] Epilogue
[29] Limitation Notice
 
Pagination:

Applies to:
State (c)13
Page(s)  
[  1] Half-title
[  2] Quotation from “Songs of the Spirit”, p. 13, Lines 1–4
[  3] Title-page
[  4] Quotation:  St. John xii, 24-25
[  5] Preface
[  6] Quotation:  Acts I, 18-19
[  7] Dedication
[  8] á toí
[  9] Fly-title
[10] Quotation from Swinburne’s ‘The Leper’
11-27 Text
[28] Epilogue
[29] Limitation Notice
 
Contents:

-  Preface
-  Aceldama, A Place To Bury Strangers In
-  Epilogue

 

Author’s
Working
Versions:

 

Five sets of page proofs bound together with revisions in the hand of Aleister Crowley.  Pages:  88.  Dated:  1898.  Box 5, Folder 7.  Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX.

 

Printed version with revisions in the hand of Aleister Crowley.  Pages:  28.  Dated:  1898.  Box 5, Folder 8.  Harry Ransom Center, Austin, TX.

 

Other
Known
Editions:

+

The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley, Vol. I, pg. 1, Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, Boleskine, Foyers, Inverness, 1905.

+

Gordon Press, New York, 1974.

+ Selected Poems, Edited by M. Booth, pg. 151, 1986.
+ Mandrake Press, England, 1993.
 
Bibliographic
Sources:
1.

L. C. R. Duncombe-Jewell, Notes Towards An Outline of A Bibliography of the Writings in Prose and Verse of Aleister Crowley, The Works of Aleister Crowley, Volume III, Appendix A, Gordon Press, New York, 1974, p. 233.  

2.

Timothy d’Arch Smith, Aleister Crowley’s Aceldama (1898):  The A B Copy’, Book Collector, 56, 2 (Summer 2007), p. 213.   

3. Ibid, p. 219.
4. Ibid, p. 231.
5. Ibid, p. 220.
6. Ibid, p. 215.
7. Ibid, p. 216.
8. Timothy d’Arch Smith, The Books of the Beast,  Mandrake, Oxford; 1991, p. 24.
9. Clive Harper, A Bibliography of the Works of Aleister Crowley (Expanded and Corrected), Aleister Crowley, The Golden Dawn and Buddhism:  Reminiscences and Writings of Gerald Yorke, The Teitan Press, York Beach, Maine, 2011, p. 40.
10. Dianne Frances Rivers, A Bibliographic List with Special Reference To the Collection at the University of Texas,  Master of Arts Thesis, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 1967, p. 2.
11. Ibid, p. 1.
12. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas.
13. Personal observation of the item.
14. Correspondence, Frater Achad (Charles Stansfeld Jones) to Aleister Crowley, 10 January 1918.  OTO Film 5 (Correspondence with Charles Stansfeld Jones), Aleister Crowley Papers, The Microfilm Edition, Ordo Templi Orientis in association with The Warburg Institute, 2002.
15. Tobias Churton, Aleister Crowley:  The Biography, Watkins Publishing, London, 2011, p. 434.
16. Miriam J. Benkovitz, Aubrey Beardsley:  An Account of His Life (New York:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981), p. 136.
17. Aleister Crowley, Mortadello, Catalog “The Works of Mr. Aleister Crowley,”, bound in back of book, Wieland and Co., London, 1912, p. 111.
18. Richard Kaczynski, Ph.D., Perdurabo:  The Life of Aleister Crowley, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, 2010, p. 46.
19. James G. Nelson / Peter Mendes, Publisher to the Decadents:  Leonard Smithers in the careers of Beardsley, Wilde, Dowson, Pennsylvania State University Press, May 2000, p. 339.
 

Comments by
Aleister
Crowley:

     But in Aceldama, my first published poem of any importance, I attained, at a bound, the summit of my Parnassus. In a sense, I have never written anything better. It is absolutely characteristic. Its technical excellence is remarkable and it is the pure expression of my unconscious self. I had no corresponding mental concepts at the time. It enounces a philosophy which subsequent developments have not appreciably modified. I remember my own attitude to it. It seemed to me a willfully extravagant eccentricity. I had no idea that it was the pure water of the Dircean spring.
     The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 138.

______________________________
 

     My Aceldama had just been issued and was being sold privately in the university at half-a-crown.  (There were only eighty-eight copies, with ten on large paper and two on vellum.)   One of the mottoes in Aceldama is a quotation from Swinburne’s “The  leper”.  I had not acknowledged the authorship of Aceldama; it was by A  Gentleman of the University of Cambridge" in imitation of one of Shelley’s  earlier books.
     The Confessions of Aleister Crowley.  New York, NY.  Hill and Wang, 1969.  Page 150.

 
Reviews:

The only known review of Aceldama appeared in an issue of Cantab.  

     Induced by we know not what course of reading, the book is not one that we can recommend to the young, for though its stanzas are sufficiently musical, there runs through them a vein of scepticism and licentiousness which required to be treated with caution.
The Cantab, date unknown.

 
     
     
   

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