DW's bookplate

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lukehoney
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DW's bookplate

Post by lukehoney » Mon 20 Feb, 2006 16:53:54

On a note of complete trivia: has anyone noticed the spelling mistake in Dennis's wonderful bookplate by Frank Pape?

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Bob Rothwell
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Post by Bob Rothwell » Mon 20 Feb, 2006 23:22:45

To assist:
[align=center]Image[/align]

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Post by Jim » Tue 21 Feb, 2006 01:22:19

Aha! "Forbiden"!

I just checked on his copy of MYSTERY OF A HANSOM CAB (which I now own)...I guess he never had it corrected...

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Tue 21 Feb, 2006 20:21:57

You know what his spelling was like - atrocious! Perhaps he never noticed?

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Post by lukehoney » Tue 21 Feb, 2006 22:43:51

I suspect that Frank Pape just copied out what he had been given by Dennis- it must have been extremely bugging for DW when, inevitably, this must have been pointed out to him, no doubt by the highly literate "Eve Chaucer" ; despite this, it has to be one of the most strikingly original bookplates ever produced. I still find the bookplate slightly unnerving. I managed to pick up an original unpasted bookplate on ebay, which I plan to frame up when I have time. You wonder what just how much influence the sinister Gordon Eric Gordon-Tombe had on the young Dennis, especially when you read about Gordon-Tombe's insurance scams and subsequent murder? I think it was also Gordon-Tombe who initially introduced DW to the occult, or at least, got Dennis to start reading up about it. It would be interesting to hear from any other members who have carried out further research into Gordon-Tombe and what he got up to. I think there was an article about this in one of the Sunday colour supplements a few years back. Can anyone shed light on the symbolism behind the bookplate? I assume it refers to Genesis and the Tree of Good and Evil, and DW sits at the feet of Gordon-Tombe who is depicted as either a satyr or Pan? Interesting stuff, and certainly not run of the mill...

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Thu 23 Feb, 2006 11:53:20


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Post by lukehoney » Fri 24 Feb, 2006 17:29:11

Bob

Thanks for this. I wonder how those journalists got hold of DW's unpublished memoirs? I have a suspicion that they may have been working on, or at least have been thinking about, a full biography. Is there any reason why a full biography of DW has not been published? Is it because of the Hutchinson copyright problems?

There is no doubt that Gordon-Tombe had a great influence on the young Dennis. Also, can anyone shed any light on the symbolism behind the bookplate? In particular, the crucified girl on the tree in the background? The Tree of Knowledge stuff is fairly straightfoward. Any comments welcome.

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Wed 1 Mar, 2006 15:21:05

Courtesy, with grateful thanks, of Phil Baker, DW's official biographer:
I find it a little bit inscrutable myself (particularly the woman) but the key point is that while we are usually told the tree in the Garden was the tree of Knowledge, or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Tombe is quoted talking about a second one, "the tree of life". The tree of Knowledge is from Genesis ii. 16-17, but there's also a reference to the tree of Life in Genesis iii.22-4, and this was the further tree that Adam and Eve were expelled before they had a chance to eat – in fact stopping them before they managed to eat that one as well seems to have been one of God's motives in expelling them.

Wheatley was aware of a more esoteric Babylonian tradition around this story, which says God was so pleased with his creation that he decided to make him immortal and sent one of his angels, named Serpent, to tell man to eat of the Tree of Life. Serpent, however, had a twisted agenda of his own and he delivered the so-called "perverted message," leading Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge instead, while Serpent himself ate of the Tree of Life. God's ensuing anger is well known, and Serpent lost his wings and angelic appearance and henceforth crawled on his belly, but he also became immortal, like one of J.G.Frazer's gods of death and rebirth on the Osiris and Christ model, symbolised by the shedding of his skin. Combining these traditions, certain alchemical and esoteric texts show a snake or even an empty snake-skin on the Cross.

Behind Wheatley and Tombe is the rather barren tree of mere knowledge, with a book in its branches, but further back is the tree of life, with a naked woman ("as dainty as possible, right hand welcoming", Wheatley wrote in his design notes) within a flowery crux ansata or ankh, above a loosely crucified figure.

I'm not sure if that really explains it, but I can tell you that instead of the saxophone Wheatley originally wanted a ukelele (he's much better off with the saxophone, I think; it has certainly aged better) and he originally wanted Tombe as the Devil himself, complete with a pointed tail as well as hooves and horns.

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Post by Jim » Thu 9 Mar, 2006 23:09:31

There's a sample of the DW bookplate up for auction on eBay right now, as well as two signed letters, for those who want to beef up their collections...

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