Aleister Crowley-signed Mortadello first edition to auction

An Aleister Crowley-signed first edition of his five-act black comedy Mortadello is to cross the auction block at Swann Galleries on June 20.

The infamous British occultist, mountaineer and recreational drug user published the play, which is written in alexandrine meter, in 1912, aged 37.

Aleister Crowley auction
Aleister Crowley’s Mortadello was published by Barabbas and Company in very limited numbers

The extremely rare text represents a mere fraction of Crowley's creative output, which includes poetry, essays, philosophical works and fiction.

The present first edition has been signed and inscribed by Crowley: "Aleister Crowley / Library Copy".

The ceremonial magician, who was denounced as "the wickedest man on earth" by the popular press at the turn of the century, has also written on the verso, in reference to Eliphas Levi's influential occult work The Key of the Great Mysteries, "La passion religieuse de Levi Clef des grs Mysteres p123".

One of only a handful of copies bearing both titles - Mortadello; or, the Angel of Venice - Crowley's personal copy is expected to make $5,000-7,500.

American writer William Faulkner is also well represented in the sale. A number of the author's works are to cross the block, including rare signed copies and valuable first editions.

A cloth-backed first edition of The Sound and the Fury (1929) and a rare first edition of Faulkner's first novel, Soldier's Play, are each estimated at $25,000.

We too have a number of rare books in stock, including this Virginia Woolf-autographed copy of Orlando - yours today for just £1,950.

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