Brian Howard. Cover design by John Banting
Hours Press. Paris. 1930 [January 1931]. First edition. Limited to 150 copies signed by the author. This copy is unnumbered. Hardback; Printed paper-covered boards, backed with black leather; title in gilt to spine, boards with a typographic design by John Banting. [viii], 40 pages. English. 295 x 200mm. 0.55kg. . Very good; light shelf wear and some soiling to boards, some rubbing to forecorners, leather rubbed at spine ends, light wear to spine, some light browning to boards and page edges; some slight spotting to endpapers, internally clean with a tight binding.
A rare copy of Brain Howard's only book, signed by the author. God Save the King or First Poems contains a collection of eighteen poems, written by the young aesthete and bright-young-thing Brian Howard. He wrote the majority of the poems in 1929 and 1930 when he was twenty-five years old. At this time Howard was seen as a promising young writer and poet, and a member of the literary circle rooted in Oxford. He was, simultaneously, an active member of the Bright Young Things and was a leader in their parties and affairs. Whilst writing the poems he was, at the same time, embroiled in the Bruno Hat Affair, an art hoax that fooled many in the art world in 1929. The poems were written in Madrid, London, Nore (his family's country residence in Surrey) and La Napoule. Howard and John Banting had rented a villa in La Napoule in the South of France during 1929-30, and it was here, with some degree of peace, that Howard found the creative energy to write many of the poems. Banting provides the typographic illustrations for the front and back covers of the book. The book was published by the author's friend Nancy Cunard, at the Hours Press and, although it reads 1930 on the spine, the book was actually published in January 1931. Howard dedicated it to his mother. Alan Pryce-Jones reviewed the book in the London Mercury, writing 'I do not mean to disparage Mr. Howard's poetry when I say it is essentially of our age - as easily dated as Cowley or Monkton Milnes, or T. S. Eliot. It has the extreme sensitiveness to external impressions, the pride, and a sort of anguish at being alive at all, which are usually the springs of modern inspiration.' This was the author's only book. His literary potential did not develop much further and sadly Howard's life ended in suicide in 1958. The book was limited to 150 copies and copies on the market are scarce.
[Marie-Jaqueline Lancaster. Brian Howard. Portrait of a Failure. pp. 287, 295-97]