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The Bad Child's Book of Beasts.

[BELLOC (Hilaire)].

[BELLOC (Hilaire)].

The Bad Child's Book of Beasts. Verses by H. B. Pictures by B. T. B.

Black and white illustrations throughout by Basil Temple Blackwood.

First Edition. Small 4to. [196 x 162 x 8 mm]. 47, [1] pp. Original grey boards, printed in black and red. (Spine worn, with partial loss, covers a little discoloured, free endleaves browned.)
Oxford: Alden & Co. Ltd, Bocardo Press, 35, Corn-Market Street. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent and Co. Ltd, [1896].

A few trivial marks, but a very good clean copy. It is neatly inscribed in ink on the front free endleaf "Wasey Sterry Xmas 1896" and beneath the initials on the title he has added in pencil "Henri Belloc" and "Basil Temple Blackwood". As this was Belloc's second book he might be forgiven for mistaking his name.

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (1870-1953) was born in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France and moved to England after the death of his father in 1872. He graduated from Balliol College in 1895, having been President of the Oxford Union. In 1896 he married Elodie Hogan, and they had five children. He was the author of more than 150 books, and when asked why he wrote so much, he replied: "Because my children are howling for pearls and caviar". His first book, Verses and Sonnets was published by Ward and Downey in 1896, but is thought to have been withdrawn and suppressed. The Bad Child's Book of Beasts is said to have sold 4000 copies within the first three months (where are they now?) and a second edition was published in 1897. It was the start of his collaboration with the illustrator Lord Ian Basil Gawaine Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood (1870-1917), the son of the 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Eva. "B.T.B." was a contemporary of Belloc at Balliol, and their future joint works included More Beasts for Worse Children (1897) and Cautionary Tales for Children (1907), in which Belloc describes the drawings as "the nicest things you ever saw".

In The Bad Child's Book of Beasts the superficially naive verses give tongue-in-cheek advise to children. The animals tend to be sage-like, and the humans dull and self-satisfied. The illustrations have drawn comparisons to the later creations of Dr. Seuss. Lord Alfred Douglas accused Belloc of plagarizing his work Tales with a Twist, although it was published two years later, in 1898.

Sir Wasey Sterry (1866-1955) was the sixth generation of his family to be named Wasey. He was educated at Eton (1878-1885) and Merton College, Oxford (1885-1889) and became a barrister of Lincoln's Inn in 1892. In 1901 he entered British Colonial Service and was assigned to the Sudan as a judge. He was appointed Chief Justice of Sudan in 1915 and served as acting Governor-General 1923-1925. In 1919 he married Renee Bonfils in Cairo, but they had no children. He was knighted in 1925 and retired to England in 1938. He took up genealogy and published The Eton College Register, 1441-1698 in 1943.

Stock no. ebc6789

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Price: £750