First UK edition, first printing. Publisher's original red cloth with white titles to the spine, in the Richard Barton illustrated dustwrapper. A very near fine copy, the binding square and tight with just a little bumping at the spine tips, the cloth bright and fresh. The contents, with strips of toning / offsetting to the endpapers are otherwise clean throughout and without inscriptions or stamps. Complete with the very good lightly rubbed dustwrapper that is nicked with tiny loss at the head of the spine, and with a vertical crease to the outer margin of the front flap which has not been price-clipped (10s 6d net to the lower corner).

A scarce pseudonymous novel of close shaves, daring escapes, and wildly licentious behaviour in the royal boudoirs of eighteenth-century London. 'I, Libertine' was written as the result of a hoax by the popular New York City late night radio host and prankster Jean Shepherd, who believed that people tended to read the books touted by critics and 'experts', even if the only reason the books were being praised was that some publisher had too many copies on his hands and needed to sell them. With New York being a centre of book publishing, Shepherd exhorted his faithful listeners (and conspirators) to approach their local booksellers the next morning and request copies of the historical novel 'I, Libertine' by Frederick R. Ewing - a book that had never been written, by an author who had never been alive. The hoax was so successful that bookstores all over New York were trying to order 'I, Libertine', and the pièce de resistance came when the [non existent] book was placed on the Proscribed List by the Archdiocese of Boston (being 'banned in Boston' carried a scandalous cachet in the 1950s). Eventually, following a tip off by the pranksters, the Wall Street Journal revealed the truth about the hoax. Shortly after the story broke Jean Shepherd was having lunch with science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon told Shepherd that his publisher Ian Ballantine, was madly trying to secure the paperback rights to 'I, Libertine' and after introducing them, a book was born. Sturgeon was hired and given a 30 day deadline. Rather than penning a romance parody or semi-pornographic romp, Sturgeon created a story based on real history - the marital scandals of Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston. Ballantine published the novel (simultaneously in hardcover and paperback) in 1956, selling 130,000 copies. Michael Joseph acquired the British rights and published the first and only UK edition the following year.

Stock code: 25052


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EWING, Frederick R.
pseudonym of STURGEON, Theodore


London: Michael Joseph.


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