Osbert Sitwell. With illustrations by John Piper.
MacMillan & Co. Ltd. London. 1948-1950. The first three volumes are early reprints. 5 volumes, hardback, 8vo; red cloth-bound boards with gilt title to spines, top edges black, dust jackets. xvi, 272; viii, 319; viii, 326; viii, 381; xii, 324 pages. Black-and-white plates in each volume. Reproductions of original paintings by John Piper throughout. English. 220 x 150mm. 3kg. . Very good, in very good dust jackets; slight shelf wear, slight toning and some fading to spines, occasional spotting, not price-clipped. All volumes with the Ex Libris bookplate of their previous owner Bess Butler.
A complete set of the five volume autobiography of Sitwell sibling, Osbert. The volume titles are I. The Cruel Month, II. The Scarlet Tree, III. Great Morning, IV. Laughter in the Next Room, V. Nobel Essences or Courteous Revelations. The autobiography is grand in scale, has Proustian pretensions and is somewhat self-aggrandising; Osbert is only 18 by the beginning of the third volume. The books cover an Edwardian childhood and two World Wars. The fifth volume contains a series of character studies of his friends and acquaintances, including Lytton Strachey, Ronald Firbank, Rex Whistler, Arnold Bennett, Ada Leverson and Wilfred Owen. John Piper created several paintings of Sitwell's homes and locations specifically for the book and they are reproduced throughout. John Richardson later wrote scathingly of the autobiography as being 'intolerably puffed up and pretentious: gout-stool stuff' (Sacred Monsters, Sacred Masters , 2001).