A rare copy of The Dark Monarch, the infamous first edition from 1962, by Sven Berlin. Front cover.

The Dark Monarch | Sven Berlin


This rare original edition, published by Galley Press in 1962, is the artist, sculptor and writer Sven Berlin's infamous roman a clef based on the characters, artists and others he worked with in St. Ives in the 1940s and 1950s. Dust jacket is complete, with minor scuffing/wear. Yellow boards are clean and there is previous owner's details handwritten on the inside front board. (Celia M Bourne of Little Coombe, Parc-Owles, Carbis Bay.) The book is illustrated throughout with Berlin's drawings. Text is clean, bright and tight. The book's characters included members of the artistic commuity such as Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and Naum Gabo as well as the poet Arthur Caddick and the potter Bernard Leach. The characters are thinly disguised and this led to a series of law suits and the withdrawal of the book ten days after publication. The theme and the title of the book (the forces Berlin perceived in Cornwall) inspired the subject of a major exhibition at the Tate St. Ives/Eastbourne's Towner in 2009/10. 204pp