Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown [Argyll House]
London: Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1924. First Printing. Pictorial Wrappers. First Separate Edition of Woolf's essay heralding the arrival of modernity, one of only 1,000 copies. Demy 8vo (215 x 137mm): 24pp. Publisher's off-white stiff wrappers, sewn and gummed, printed in black with upper cover illustrated by Vanessa Bell. Laid in is a hand-written letter on embossed Argyll House stationary signed by hostess Sibyl Lady Colefax, Woolf's worshipful acquaintance. A Fine copy with a brilliant association. Kirkpatrick A7. Woolmer 54. Fine. Item #BB2729
"On or about December 1910," Woolf wrote in this essay, introducing Roger Fry's landmark exhibition "Manet and the Post-Impressionists" at London's Grafton Galleries, "human character changed." The exhibition ruined Fry's credibility as critic but marked a pivotal moment in the history of art. Woolf's essay was originally published, in incipient form, in the Nation and Athenaeum, in December, 1923 (her husband, Leonard Woolf, had just been appointed literary editor), rebutting Arnold Bennett's review in Cassell's Weekly the previous March of her novel Jacob's Room. The following year, Woolf presented her more fully developed ideas on cultural relativism as a paper read before the Heretics Society, at Cambridge University. T. S. Eliot, then editor of The Criterion, soon after published the talk under the title Character in Fiction. The essay finally appeared in this separate printing as No. 1 of the Hogarth Essays under its original title. Argyll House still stands at 211 King's Road, in Chelsea. It was the center of London society in the early twentieth century, when it was owned by Lady Colefax. Her parties there were renowned, and included such guests as Fred Astaire, George Gershwin, Hilair Belloc, and Winston Churchill, as well as the Woolfs. Supposedly, Ernest and Wallace Simpson were introduced to the Prince of Wales at Argyll House in 1935. The house's first owner was Mrs. Mary Villiers, followed by the fourth Duke of Argyll. Cecil Beaton wrote after a visit: "From the moment one arrived in the small panelled hall and savoured the aroma of dried rosemary burnt on a saucer, one knew one had arrived in a completely different atmosphere, refreshing as a sea change." N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, carefully preserved in archival, removable mylar sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. (Fine Editions Ltd is a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and we subscribe to its codes of ethics.).