Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Beginnings and Early Writings

Manuscripts | Publications

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First edition of Samuel Beckett’s poem Whoroscope (Paris: The Hours Press, 1930) with the original white wrap-around slip stating: “This Poem was awarded the £10 prize for the best poem on Time in the competition judged by Richard Aldington and Nancy Cunard at The Hours Press and is published in an edition of 100 signed copies at 5 s. and 200 unsigned at 1 s. This is also Mr. Samuel Beckett’s first separately published work.”

This is Beckett’s presentation copy to Nancy Cunard, inscribed on the limitation page: “With tante belle / cose for Nancy – / Samuel” and beneath this, in Cunard’s hand, “Hours Press / Own Set.” In a tipped-in letter from Beckett to Nancy Cunard, dated 26 January 1959, Beckett recalls that he knew nothing about the competition until the afternoon of the last day entries could be submitted. He wrote the first half before dinner and finished the poem towards three in the morning.


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Henry-Music by Henry Crowder (Paris: Hours Press, 1930) containing Samuel Beckett’s poem “From the Only Poet to a Shining Whore: For Henry Crowder to Sing.” The original pictorial boards are from a montage of photographs by Man Ray. One of 100 copies, signed by Henry Crowder. From the library of Nancy Cunard.

In addition to Beckett’s poem, Henry Crowder set to music for this volume poems by Nancy Cunard, Richard Aldington, Walter Lowenfels, and Harold Acton.


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Original pictorial boards for the first edition of Beckett’s Proust (London: Chatto & Windus, 1931). Inscribed by Beckett to “Ernie O’Malley Dublin June 1946.”

In this study of Proust’s fiction, Beckett avoids all reference “to the legendary life and death of Marcel Proust . . . to the garrulous old dowager of the Letters . . . to the poet . . . to the author of the Essays.” His intention, instead, is “to examine in the first place that double-headed monster of damnation and salvation—Time.”

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