London: The Sunday Referee, 1934. From the Bart Auerbach Collection. 12mo. Frontispiece portrait. Original green cloth. Faded and worn, tears at front joint. Item #409180
First edition of the author's first book, the first title issued in the Sunday Referee Poets Series. The dedication copy ("Dedicated Gratefully to Victor B. Neuburg"), inscribed by Johnson on the front free endpaper: "6.5.34 Dear Victor – I sign this for you with Tremendous Pleasure & the greatest gratitude. With my love, Pam. Pamela Hansford Johnson. 1934."
Neuburg, at one time Aleister Crowley's protégé, edited the column that gave birth to the series. As he writes in his five-page Foreword to the book: "Soon after the inception of The Poet's Corner [in 'The Sunday Referee'], I felt easy about asking the Editor to increase the number of prizes, and to let me have choice every half-year of a Poet whose work should be issued in book form under the aegis, and at the cost, of 'The Sunday Referee.' I won my quest, receiving a free hand... This book is the first, I hope confidently, of a long series of works by Poets who gain prizes in 'The Sunday Referee.' The next volume in the series was Dylan Thomas's 18 Poem, issued in December 1934 (somewhat fitting as "Thomas' first serious girlfriend was almost certainly Pamela Hansford Johnson" - Paul Ferris, Dylan Thomas, Penguin Books, 1978, p. 94).
Regarding Victor Neuberg, or "the Vickybird" as he was commonly called, Ferris notes (p.88): "In charge of The Poet's Corner was a literary journalist... then in middle age, [he] was a highly strung bisexual of peculiar habits who for years was under the spell, literally, of Aleister Crowley, the deranged magician... [he] had parted from the magician (and been ritually cursed, which gave him a nervous breakdown) twenty years before he joined The Sunday Referee." (See also J. O. Fuller, The Magical Dilemma of Victor Neuberg, London, 1963).
Pamela Hansford Johnson (1912-1981) became a prolific critic and satiric novelist; in 1950 she married the scientist and novelist C. P. Snow. The year after 'Symphony for Full Orchestra' appeared, 'This Bed Thy Centre', the first of her more than 20 novels was published. This is a good copy only in terms of the covers, but is an excellent association. The title was also issued in wrappers. (BA).