The Tattooed Countess: A Romantic Novel with a Happy Ending
New York: Knopf, 1924. From the Bart Auerbach Collection. 8vo. Original cloth-backed decorated boards, paper label, uncut; in a cloth slipcase. . Fore-corners a little worn, a very good copy. Item #409227
First edition, Copy No. 4 of 150 numbered copies on Borzoi All Rag Paper signed by the author (this copy not separately signed). The dedication copy, inscribed by the author on the limitation page: "With my love to Hugh Walpole - These scenes from American provincial life in 1897, Carl Van Vechten. July 29, 1924. New York." The printed dedication reads simply "For Hugh Walpole."
At the beginning of Chapter I of this novel set in Van Vechten's native lowa, there is the following marginal penciled remark in an unidentified hand (possibly Walpole's?): "Oh shit said the duchess who up to this time had taken no part in the conversation" "suggesting" an alternative opening sentence.
As noted in Bruce Kellner's 'Carl Van Vechten and the Irreverent Decades' (Norman, 1968, p. 155) an irate, anonymous reader wrote to Van Vechten about The Tattooed Countess: "'You dedicate it to Hugh Walpole. Poor Walpole! He must feel honored using his name betwixt the covers of such gutter slime.' But Walpole was enormously pleased to be the dedicatee: 'On her own bottom, so to speak [Keller quotes Walpole writing to Van Vechten] she's not I think so good as my beloved 'Bow Boy' [the author's preceding novel 'The Blind Bow-Boy', 1923] - But I think she's infinitely more interesting and more promising... It shows how true an artist you are that you should step out and develop new talents." Merle Johnson (3rd. ed., 1936), p. 467. (BA).