Columbia Library columns (v.26(1976Nov-1977May))

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  v.26,no.2(1977:Feb): Page 3  


More About Ronald Firbank


IN A Bibliography of Ronald Firbank and Ronald Firbank
A Biography, I noted the fact that The Flower Beneath the
Foot, Firbank's ninth book, "was not published in October
1922 as .scheduled because Grant Richards, the publisher, warned
Firbank in September that the book would very likely provoke
action for libel and if action was brought damages "might run
into big figures." On 14 January 1923, three days before the novel
at last appeared, Firbank explained to his mother the sources of
some of his characters in The Flower—King Geo and Queen
Glory derived from the king and queen of England, Princess Elsie
from Princess Mary, iVIrs. Chilleywater from Mrs. Harold Nicol-
son (V. Sackville-West), Eddie Monteith from Evan Morgan—
and with apparent satisfaction called it "a most 'dangerous' little
book." Since those characters appear in the novel and since no
legal action followed its publication, Richards's alarm and Fir-
bank's word 'dangerous' seemed exaggerated. But lacking an ex¬
planation and having no evidence by which to arrive at one, I
merely recorded ^^•hat I knew.

I have since acquired one set of page proofs which establishes
a state of the novel prior to publication. These proofs corroborate
Firbank's original plan for The Flower Beneath the Foot as dis¬
closed in his working notebooks, a part of the Jack H. Samuels
Library, Columbia University Libraries. Together the proofs and

  v.26,no.2(1977:Feb): Page 3