Ray Long & Richard R. Smith Inc., New York, 1932. Hardcover. First Edition. Cloth-bound with gold titles and 23 illustrations. Well worn externally with rubbing to boards, top and bottom of spine, bumped/worn corners. Moderate sunning/soiling to boards, internally some mild tanning to some pages, binding intact. A Good Plus copy of a fascinating work!
“In 1932 Hamnett published Laughing Torso, a tale of her bohemian life, which became a bestseller in the UK and US. The notorious occultist Aleister Crowley unsuccessfully sued her and the publisher for libel over allegations of black magic made in her book.
Although she won the case, the situation profoundly affected her for the remainder of her life. Alcoholism would soon overtake her many talents and the tragic Queen of the Fitzroy spent a good part of the last few decades of her life at the bar, (usually that of the Fitzroy Tavern), trading anecdotes for drinks.” – wikipedia
Newspaper review air fixed to inside cover reads:
“Here is the most flavorous and most individual autobiography of recent years. Nina Hamnett is probably known in every cafe in Montparnasse; and her story is the story of the genuine Bohemian. She left home and began the traditional artist’s life in Paris in the days before the war, when Bohemians were still strange creatures, subjects of stares and shakes of the head, and when “young ladies” lived at home – but then as Nina remarks very early in her book, “A lady was the last thing I wanted to be”.
There are stories of innumerable well known artists and other celebrities – Lytton Strachey, Frank Harris, Walter Sickert, Epstein, Augustus John, James Joyce, Sinclair Lewis, and a host of others, Europeans and Americans. Nina has known everybody worth knowing, and everybody worth knowing has known Nina. They are all in this book of her life – in its pages of experiment, brave laughter, vivid memory, with persons, orderly confusion so characteristic of a woman whose naturally acute intelligence has been sharpened and matured by her eager self-surrender to whatsoever life can bring.
Witty, disillusioned, but freshly candid, she writes of her childhood in Wales, Ireland, Chatham and London; girlhood in London, Russia and Paris – then Paris, a little more London, more Paris, and more Paris again. Art schools; studio parties; lovers; friends. Anecdotes of every artistic notability of the last twenty years. There are all of these in Laughing Torso. There is also the personality of Nina Hamnett herself. And the personality is worth the rest together.
Yes, it’s the frankest autobiography ever written by a woman.”