Ermyntrude and Esmeralda: An Entertainment. Giles Lytton Strachey, Erté, illustrator.

Ermyntrude and Esmeralda: An Entertainment

London: Anthony Blond, 1969. Square quarto, original salmon cloth stamped in gilt, original unclipped pictorial dust jacket designed by Erté. Black and grey illustrations by Erté throughout text. Front free endpaper creased, lightest edgewear to jacket.

First trade edition of this subversive “facétie," written by Lytton Strachey in 1913 as he was struggling to finish Eminent Victorians, and intended as a kind of love letter to artist Henry Lamb. The book records the correspondence of two precocious English schoolgirls who resolve to find out everything about sex, armed only with a nursery knowledge of human anatomy and a supporting cast of amorous servants: “I don't think you've made the most of your opportunities. It was a great chance for finding out some interesting things. For instance, you don't say which buttons were undone. Was it too dark to see? I don't believe it was, but you were too flurried, and didn't look properly. I'm sure I should have." In its sympathetic treatment of sexual experimentation, both gay and straight, the book reflects Lytton Strachey's own lifetime rebellion against Victorian moralism. A near-fine copy of the first trade edition, stylishly illustrated by Erté, issued simultaneously with the publisher’s limited edition of 250 copies.

Price: $75.00