From the Bart Auerbach Collection. 15 pages, folio (13 x 8 inches), in ink on rectos only, heavy tan paper (slightly toned), tied at extreme upper left corner (first and least leaves loose); in a tan half-morocco slipcase (a bit scuffed). The manuscript in very good condition. From the Beerbohm collection of the actor and director Robert Montgomery. Item #409305
On the verso of the first leaf Beerbohm has made three pencil sketches of James Pethel which he has crossed out. (A drawing of Pethel from a Beerbohm sketch-book is reproduced in the New York Review of Books edition of 'Seven Men'.) The three sketches include one of Pethel with a cigar and one of him wearing a hat. He is described with both when he is introduced in the story and pictured in the NYRB illustration.
"James Pethel" was written in 1912 and first published in the 'English Review' in December 1914. The 21-page manuscript of that was lot 327 in Sotheby's sale 'Catalogue of the Library and Literary Manuscripts of the Late Sir Max Beerbohm', December 13, 1966. It is at the HRC, the University of Texas ('Max on View', 1978, no. 67a).
This present 15-page manuscript is for the publication of the story in 'Seven Men' (London: Heinemann, 1919) and bears Beerbohm's numerous revisions and notes to the printer. At the top of the first page he has the ink note: "To Printer and Proof Reader. Please follow my punctuation, and my division of paragraphs 'exactly' throughout. Max Beerbohm." There are nine additional penciled notes to the printer (initialed by Beerbohm) on six pages (he has also penciled "Seven Men" at top of the first page).
Regarding edits (revisions), three are about 100 deletions (blockouts) across the 15 pages and numerous insertions of works, in ink, ranging from a single word through a sentence (on page 8), to three lines (on page 12).
"The story of 'James Pethel' may be looked upon as the counterpart to 'Enoch Soames' in so far as it is a study of boundless luck as opposed to the latter, which is one of continuous frustration. The eponymous hero, a fabulously successful gambler, speculator, motorist, and amateur airman ... whose only passion is for thrills and life-and-death affairs. But though he goes on risking his own life and that of others, his extraordinary luck remains with him to the end, and he dies of heart failure immediately after descending from a dangerous flight with his married daughter and her baby" (J. G. Riewald, 'Sir Max Beerbohm: Man and Writer', 1953, p. 113).
"In Joseph Epstein's opinion ('Masters of the Games', Roman and Littlefield, 2015, p. 59), the portrait drawn in the story [of James Pethel] is the best literary work on the subject [of a gambler] ... written by an outsider" (Wikipedia). (BA).