Baron Corvo, Ghost Writer: Presentation Copy

Agricultural and Pastoral Prospects of South Africa by Owen Thomas.

London: Archibald Constable, 1904.

Price: $1,250.00

About the item

First edition. Colored folding map at end. Pp. viii, 334, [1]. 1 vols. 8vo. Baron Corvo, Ghost Writer: Presentation Copy. Original green cloth. Cloth soiled, spine ends worn. Good plus. Woolf B3; cf. James, The Plaintiff (2006); Scoble, Raven (2013), “The Lost Borgiada”, pp. 264-5.

Item #345339

Expanded by Frederick Rolfe from a brief pamphlet by farmer-soldier Owen Thomas (1858-1923) to a book-length work. According to A.J.A. Symons in The Quest for Corvo it “bears in many places the stigmata of Rolfe’s eccentric style”. Agricultural and Pastoral Prospects was also the subject of contentious litigation when Rolfe asserted that Thomas had underpaid him for the ghostwrtiting work and had made promises to sell Rolfe’s manuscript genealogical chart of the Borgias, known as the lost “Borgiada”; the court found against Rolfe.

Thomas had been a land agent and farmer in Angelsey, Wales, and formed a volunteer regiment. He served in South Africa in the Boer War. Woolf cites information from Donald Weekes that “in July 1903 the Rhodes Trustees paid Thomas £500 for a report on Rhodesian farming prospects”

This copy with with a bold presentation inscription from Thomas on the front flyleaf:
To W. Rhodes Esq. With the Author’s Compliments. Fawley, Henley on Thames, 14 Oct 1904.