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Paul Rassam

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Relicta: verses.

MUNBY, Arthur. First edition. Sm. 4to. Printed boards. E.M. Forster's copy, with his book label. Munby's 'Times' obituary pasted to verso of upper board. Spine cracking, and chipped at head, boards slightly soiled, endpapers slightly foxed, else a good copy. Munby's final collection of verse is notable for 'Pastrana', a thirty-two stanza poem about an encounter with an ape-woman in the garden of a German hotel. Julia Pastrana was a Mexican Indian whose bestial features had earned her a career as a human exhibit, touring under the title of 'Julia Pastrana, The Nondescript' but nicknamed the 'Ape Woman'. Munby had seen one of her performances in July 1857. 'I gave her a cigarette,' he wrote 'which she eagerly seized, and seating herself in an apish posture astride of a tall chair, she lighted it and smoked it through; looking a perfect fiend, as she sat there before the spectators, her great cavernous eyes flaming and her huge nostrils omitting clouds of smoke.' For Munby, the story that her mother had been 'lost for years in a country full of apes and bears' lent the question of her paternity 'a hideous fascination'. Five years later, he saw her again, in a room at the Burlington Gallery, in Piccadilly, though this time she was dead. In his diary, he recorded that, 'there, on a pedestal in the middle of the floor, stood 'The embalmed Nondescript', as they call her now, looking exactly as in life. Wearing a short ballet-dress, which I was told she made for herself; her legs cased in pink stockings, her feet planted wide apart, just as she used to stand - like an animal painfully reared on its hindlegs; her coarse black hair wreathed with flowers; bracelets on the bare and hirsute arms; and a wedding ring upon the hard dead hand!' Even as a corpse, she continued to tour for several decades, making her last public appearance at a Swedish funfair in the 1970s. She was finally buried, in Mexico, in February 2013. Item 968 in Heffer's catalogue of books from Forster's library.
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Love-Letters of a Japanese. Edited by G. N. Mortlake.

STOPES, Marie.] First edition. Gilt-decorated cloth, t.e.g., others uncut. Spine browned, cloth somewhat soiled, prelims slightly foxed, else a good copy. Already an assistant professor of Botany at Tokyo's Imperial University, Kenjiro Fujii was studying in Munich when he met Marie Stopes in 1904. He was thirty-seven, she was twenty-three. Though married and extremely short, a feature exaggerated by the Tyrolean costume he sometimes affected, he was also sensitive and well-read. Their initial friendship took a romantic turn when he came to London to continue his studies, before returning to Japan. They made plans to marry after his divorce but the larger part of their courtship was epistolary and Stopes gradually detected a cooler tone in Fujii's letters. He asked her to postpone for a year her planned visit to join him in Tokyo but she refused. Some time after her arrival, he began to tell her that he was seriously ill with leprosy and about to go blind. It took a while for it to dawn on Stopes that it was more a case of cold feet, and that her first love affair had come to an end. According to her biographer, Ruth Hall, it was a blow Stopes never really got over. Two years later, in 'Love-Letters of a Japanese, she published her correspondence with Fujii as the letters of 'Mertyl Meredith' and 'Kenrio Watanabe', and provided them with equally pseudonymous editorial comment. In the meantime, Fuji had made a miraculous recovery and would enjoy excellent health until his death at the age of eighty-six, living eight years longer than Stopes herself.