DOUGLAS, Lord Alfred Bruce (1870-1945). Three autograph manuscripts (one signed): the first: Autograph manuscript (untitled) of his sequence of four sonnets, published as The City of the Soul, n.p. [Posillipo], n.d. , written on recto, 4 pages, small 4to (2 leaves trimmed at right-hand edges, slightly soiled in blank areas); together with an autograph note signed, 'October 1942', saying that he adopted the title 'The City of the Soul' for publication in 1899 by Grant Richard, ½ page, 4to (lower portion of leaf removed);
the second: Autograph manuscript draft of his poem [Eve and the Serpent ], n.p., n.d. , set in the Law Courts, Chancery Division, 67 lines including cancellations and corrections, on lined paper, 4½ pages, 4to (slightly browned and worn at edges);
and the autograph manuscript signed of his preface to the 2nd edition of the poem, n.p. [London], 'June 1917', on lined paper, 32½ pages, 4to (signed on page 29, slightly browned and soiled);
with a presentation copy of the work: Eve and the Serpent, Galashiels: Robert Dawson & Son , inscribed to Rupert Croft Cooke; blue cloth cases; and an autograph letter signed to 'Ellis', Shelley's Folly, Lewes, 26 June 1917, accepting an invitation and referring to his wife, Olive, 4 pages, 8vo.
Lord Alfred's reputation as a poet rests upon his few sonnet sequences, and The City of the Soul was composed when he and Oscar Wilde were at Posillipo in October 1897. Eve and the Serpent is a withering satire upon Mr Justice Eve; and the 'Preface' a bitter account of his dispute with Colonel Custance, his father-in-law, whose attempts to secure control of the Douglases' only child, Raymond Douglas, led to Lord Alfred's eventual separation from his wife. Eve had refused in 1914 to restore to him full custody of the boy, which as the result of an earlier decision had been awarded partly to Custance, ostensibly in connection with a property settlement. Lord Alfred had also been accused of libel against the Colonel. The case was one of the sequence of highly acrimonious disputes centred upon accusations of libel and ending in the court-room, in which he was involved at this time, leading to his bankruptcy. (5)