Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lieut. Raymond Heywood and his Poems

War poetry, particularly that of the First World War, often ends up in anthologies or bibliographies of gay literature but, in truth, it is notoriously difficult to unpick the nature of the sentiment in much of it. It was written in a time when the expression of sentiment between men was somewhat more open and under circumstances so extreme that expressions of love, even, seem the only possible vocabulary in which to measure the relationship between men living, fighting and dying in hideous close-quarters.

But, there are also those poets of the First World War whose poetry was clearly more than that so when I was doing some work which involved pouring through Ian Young's bibliography of Homosexuality in Literature: I was intrigued to see a book titled No Greater Love by Raymond Heywood. It turns out to be exceptionally rare but I was able to track down a copy of the above, Roses, Pearls and Tears (Erskine MacDonald, London, 1918). It's a book which offers a masterclass in the difficulty of finding gay readings in war poetry. There are poems in which he switches gender and writes as a 'mother': there are other poems about loving a 'her' but they could be more easily read as referring to a mother than a lover: there are the usual tantalising love poems which are gender unspecific and then, right at the back a poem called 'A Prayer' which begins, "To-day my hero-lover went away".

Often the inclusion of poetry in the 'gay archive' is done on knowledge of the author's life, well, apart from a reference to the Devonshire Regiment, at the moment I have little to go on. Obviously there may be more openly homoerotic poetry in the book I haven't yet found, certainly the title is something of a secret signal, but my reading of the poems I do have so far leads me to think that often there is nothing more than an undefinable 'something' which results in a work being 'placed' within our canon.

The cover, because I know there are a number of you who will love it, is by someone called J Hancock and is dated 25.3.18.

Angus Stewart & Sandel

I notice that a Wikipedia entry has appeared for Angus Stewart. I guess we all have novels on that mental list of 'I really should have read that and feel slightly guilty that I never have' and Angus Stewart's Sandel is definitely on mine. The hardcover first edition was published by Hutchinson in 1968 and there was a Panther paperback in 1971 but it has never been reprinted since. Consequently it has attained an astonishing price tag in either edition - although how fast it actually sells at those kinds of prices isn't quite clear to me.

Angus John Mackintosh Stewart was Australian by birth but moved to the UK following his father's academic career at the age of thirteen. Perhaps that was a particularly significant event for him since the protagonist in Sandel, (Antony Sandel) is also thirteen. Stewart never wrote another 'gay novel' and spent a significant portion of his life in North Africa experimenting with drugs and "self-discovery".

Damaged Photos

Unlike book collecting, or ceramics, in fact unlike almost any other form of collecting that I know, the collecting of vernacular photographs is about the only sphere in which condition is not a major consideration. In fact, a photograph with signs of wear, cracks in the emulsion, silvering, bent and broken corners, pin holes, tape marks, all these things can give an added layer of character to an image. It's a difficult thing to describe and obviously one doesn't want the image itself obscured beyond visibility but nonetheless there is something almost more interesting about a photograph which shows it has had a bit of life than one which has been meticulously preserved. I hope the examples here from my collection speak about that more eloquently than I have been able to...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Things That Fall From Books #7

It's strange indeed that I should have chosen to do another in my occasional series of 'things that fall from books' just yesterday because I couldn't have known that today I would open another two books and find two more ephemeral delights. The first was a copy of The Human Form and its Use in Art by F. R. Yerbury and G. M. Ellwood and out of the back of that book fell not only someone's clippings of draped figures from other books for artists but also the prospectus for Eric Gill's famous book 25 Nudes. What's particularly nice about the prospectus is that whilst the book was published for Gill by J. M. Dent & Sons, the prospectus is clearly marked as having been printed at the Hague and Gill Press in High Wycombe, in other words, it is possible to imagine that Gill himself, or at least his son-in-law Rene Hague, had a hand in the production of this piece of ephemera.

The other leaf to fall from a book today was a little more random. A copy of Saunier's Treatise on Modern Horology, the Foyle's reprint from the 1950s had this tucked between its pages... go figure...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Things That Fall From Books #6: Butterfly Blots

Another in our occasional series of things that fall from books. These pieces of paper, each folded and each with a paint blot transformed into a butterfly fell from a copy of a talk on poetry given to a Liverpool club in 1899 which had been typed up and bound by a proud author... The butterflies are by far the most interesting part of the book.

Friday, July 22, 2011

151 years ago today...

Frederick Rolfe aka Baron Corvo was born. He would have been delighted to know that anyone remembered him at all...

West Africa: Bridge with Naked Man

"Bridge With Naked Man" sounds a little like a title for a mid-twentieth century piece of British painting. However, in this instance, I'm refering to this curious set of photographs found in a box of ephemera bought at a local auction recently. These are 10" x 8" photos with a little age to them and the five which show the construction of a railway bridge I think are fascinating in their own right. Then, the last photo, a well constructed guy standing naked by a waterfall. Now, if you're reading this in a part of the world where it's summer at the moment, tell me that doesn't look inviting!

Callum James Books: Short List #3

We're delighted to have just issued Short List #3. If you're on the mailing list you should check your inbox. If you're not on the mailing list... why not!? 15-25 items you'll like catalogued every month or two and sent straight to your inbox as a text-only list, with a link to where you can find the fully illustrated pdf file... what's not to like? If you would like to be included then just drop me a line at

Scouting Album

One of the items in the upcoming Short List #3 is a rather wonderful old album of Scouting photographs from 1919-1929. The photos here are just a little teaser. The Short List will be issued tomorrow (Friday), if you would like to be on the mailing list then just drop me a line at Every month or two I intend to issue a short catalogue list of 15-25 items of interest: books, photographs and ephemera - in fact, if you know this blog, you'll know what to expect. Most but by no means all of the items will have a slant towards gay history or literature. There's a real mix of price and many of the items will be held back from general sale on the internet for a while after the list has been issued.

Posting Gap

Apologies for the late running of this post, it's been a busy time here at Callum James Heights. Obviously the highlight of the year so far, and one my passions which doesn't often make it onto this blog, was the release of the very last Harry Potter film. One critic I read called it, 'a film with no beginning and no middle just two hours of thunderous ending...' which I thought was pretty much on the money. Will be going back to see it in 3D in due course - there's nothing like Potter at the cinema, so going to make the most of it while I can.

As well as shepherding a few large sales through auctions recently, and working hard on a number of, though I say it myself, very exciting upcoming publishing projects, I have also been working on my Short List #3... more of which shortly.

So, this short post is just by way of saying "Hi! I'm back..."

[above: a rather wonderfully atmospheric real photo postcard of Venice at night that I picked up recently]

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Vintage Theatre Ephemera - Cambridge

A scanty internet search suggests that perhaps this theatre doesn't exist any more. These are the best items from a box of theatre ephemera that's recently invaded my study. They all date from between 1900-1907

Friday, July 08, 2011

Vintage Swim

Two new additions to the Vintage Swimming Collection.

More from The Strand

There was a regular feature in The Strand Magazine called 'Beauties', a few pages in each issue devoted to showing pictures of beautiful women or children and they were all in this format with a highly decorative background in black and white line, with two or three photos inset. These three I found whilst looking through for more work by Alan Wright: and it turns out he did contribute to this section at times but for the moment I'm rather taken with these. They are all from Volume I, from the first half of 1891. They don't appear to be signed or monogrammed. Perhaps as I continue to go through the magazine I will see other work by the same hand that is attributed.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Two Book Catalogues

I have, in the past, blogged about old book catalogues but this is something a little different. Two catalogues have been issued recently that I can commend to readers of this blog. The first is an astonishing catalogue by Natalie Galustian of Cecil Court in London who has put together, under the title They Were What They Were, a mind-bogglingly rare collection of books on the theme of early gay fiction. And then David Deiss at Elysium Press has joined in the fun of issuing a Short List. David's catalogues are always worth serious study by any collector or academic, or frankly anyone with an interest in Gay history and literature and, in a slightly more understated way (probably because he's been in the field much longer) the Elysium Short List #1 is just as full of goodies as Galustian's.

Obviously, I'll take this opportunity to remind you all that Callum James Books also issues a Short List every month or two of items often, but not always, relating to gay literature and history; if you are used to the contents of this blog you will not be surprised by what goes on the Short List. Often these items are at discounted prices or are new stock which has been held back from general sale for a while after the issue of the list. The only way to get it... is to be on the mailing list, so please just drop me a line (email link on the right hand side of this page) if you would like to receive an email every month or two containing details of items for sale.

I should also say that Callum James Books also BUYS books, photographs and ephemera. Obviously my interests are varied but I am largely interested in gay themed or gay-interest items. I am happy to consider interesting individual items or large collections and I will travel far and wide to view interesting material.

The advantages of selling to a specialist dealer are manifold but not least because I will understand what it is you have better than your local general secondhand bookshop. Also, because I may already have customers in mind, as a specialist I am able to offer you more money because I know the items won't be sitting on my shelves for years waiting for the right person to come along. Another, but by no means final reason why a specialist is going to be better for your material is that even if what you have is not for me, I am often able to point you in the direction of someone else who could help and to give advice and guidance about value. If you are looking to sell anything that you think might interest me (a single item, cheap bulk, a valuable collection, photographs or ephemera) then again, the email link is just to the right of the page - please click it and say hi!

Italian 1930s Petrol!

There is an Italian Ebay seller whose auctions I look at from time to time called, rossori. I once bought some vintage swimwear pics from him and so, it seems only polite to look in on what he's selling from time to time. And today I was delighted to see a collection of 1920s and 1930s Italian adverts for, well, for petrol, but just how glam! These are simply adverts from magazines but what style! You can view the rest by viewing Rossori's auctions on Ebay for as long as they are online.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Alan Wright's Infinite Love

I bought a run of bound volumes of the Strand Magazine today, largely of course for the Sherlock Holmes interest but was delighted, on flicking through the other contributions to discover that Alan Wright was a not insignificant illustrator in those hallowed pages. Alan Wright, you may recall from previous blog-posts here, is a much overlooked illustrator of the 1890s who was a friend of Gleeson White in Christchurch and hence, knew Frederick Rolfe and, in fact, became something of an early Corvine and in his dotage often looked back upon that time with Rolfe very fondly. Which is odd because it was Wright who illustrated Rolfe's How I Was Buried Alive which not only got Rolfe into trouble but the scandal of it rubbed off on Wright and he found it difficult to get as much work after the publication of Rolfe's story in The Wide World Magazine.

Anyway, as a slightly lone voice, I like to showcase bits and pieces of Wright's work when I come across it and these three illustrations are by far the most interesting I've seen in The Strand so far. They are illustrations for a piece of music, a song setting of words by Dante Gabrielle Rossetti: 'Infinite Love', with music by Maude Valerie White. Unfortunately, Youtube has failed me for a rendition of the piece, perhaps I can convince R to serenade me with it tomorrow...

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