CUNARD, Nancy. Psalm of the Palms and Sonnets [title on front wrapper]. [Havana: Privately Printed] “Hand-set-printed on ‘pocket-press’ by the author. (Freinet method.)”, July 1941. 8 leaves, crudely printed on rectos only. Original black wrappers, the upper cover lettered in red, modern box. The collection comprises the 5-page “Psalm for Trinidad” and the sonnets “‘How Long?’ is not ‘For Ever’”, “Less Than The Slave” and “To Alfred Cruickshank”, with a duplicate proof of the last loosely-inserted, signed and dated “Feb 8. 1941 Trinidad”. VARIOUSLY ANNOTATED THROUGHOUT BY THE AUTHOR: “Own Copy and last copy” (at the head of the first leaf); “(Written in Trinidad, completed in Cuba, February [space] July.) 1941” (at the end of the “Psalm”); “(Written in Barbados. March 1941” (at the end of the first sonnet); “(Written in Caracas. May 1941)” (at the end of the second sonnet); “(Written in Trinidad. Jan 1941)” (at the end of the final sonnet); “50 copies only. Cover by author, cut in linoleum. Production by author” (on the verso of the final sonnet). FIRST EDITION. EXCEPTIONALLY SCARCE. Anthony Hobson gives the following account of this great rarity (of which only 2 copies – including this one – are known to exist) in The Book Collector (Summer, 1971): “This pamphlet, probably Nancy Cunard’s rarest book, has not, I believe, been previously described. The author has added some information about the work’s composition and production in a copy now in my collection … I should be interested to hear of any other copies and to know whether they agree with the one described. And what is the Freinet method?” Loosely-inserted is a clipped catalogue description of the only other recorded copy of the pamphlet, from the Eric & Joan Stevens Catalogue 127 (1985), which states: “The only copy we have encountered in over 25 years.” Also included is a 2-page autograph letter, on paper headed “News Chronicle”, dated 13 Oct. 1941, from Louise [Theis], stating, “Darling Nancy, Yesterday came your ‘Psalm of the Palms’, posted La Habana in July … Darling, it is so lovely …. I am tired at the moment & cannot say what I think or feel. But it gave me great joy, & took me quite out of myself. It’s beautiful stuff …We do, both, love & adore you, darling. You are life of our life.”
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