CORELLI, Marie; Arthur SEVERN, Illus. The Devil's Motor. London: Hodder & Stoughton, [c.1910].
Large 4to., original red cloth blocked in black and gilt to upper board with a design of wheels bearing bat wings; gilt lettering to spine; unpaginated [pp. 102]; with six tipped-in illustrations by Arthur Severn; light scuffs to corners and bruising to spine ends; light spots to end leaves and previous owner's inscription to the ffep; a couple of small corner creases, one chip [p.29] not affecting text; else a very good copy, lacking the elusive dust jacket.
First edition. The leaves have been deliberately blackened to the edges and impregnated with the smell of engine oil, to emulate the pollution of automobiles. This still remains pungent some 100 years after publication.
The novelist Mary Mackary [pseud. Marie Corelli] (1855-1924) is perhaps best known for her works of fiction which mostly concern Christianity and mysticism. This, however, is an impassioned denunciation of the motor-car, produced in collaboration with the artist Arthur Severn, with whom she formed an unrequited romantic attachment at the age of 51. The writer and artist had together planned a second joint work, a factual book on Shakespeare's Stratford-on-Avon, but the project was abandoned due to their strained relationship, which finally ended in 1917.