Some Limericks.
Some Limericks. Some Limericks. Some Limericks. Some Limericks. Some Limericks.

[Florence]: Privately Printed [Orioli]. 1928.

First edition issued to subscribers only. Signed by Norman Douglas. Limited to 110 copies of which this is number 64. Royal 8vo. 250x165mm. pp.97 [5bl]. Original yellow/gold rough canvas with title stamped in red on upper cover. Hinge slightly cracked but otherwise fine. The front free endpaper has the ownership inscription of Roger Senhouse. In an unidentified hand is written, "Lucian. See page 80 for Mr Freud" (a reference to Sigmund in a limerick rhyming "psychoanalysis" with "phalluses"). This copy did indeed belong to Lucian Freud, having come to its most recent owner by descent. It seems possible that Senhouse gave this copy to Freud or that the artist acquired it after Senhouse's death in 1970.

Senhouse's own annotations and references are scattered throughout the text and four of the final blank pages have more substantial manuscript notes by him including a number of additional limericks. There are also three leaves, loosely inserted, containing notes, limericks and other verse in Senhouse's hand. This is a particularly nice copy of the first limited edition in very good condition and with an excellent provenance and many examples of Senhouse's own bawdiness.

Roger Senhouse is perhaps best known for two things: owning the publishing house Secker and Warburg and being Lytton Strachey’s lover - the two men were enthusiastic sado-masochists. Less well known is Senhouse’s devotion to and serious interest in limericks. When, in 1924, Norman Douglas began to think about producing a book of filthy limericks with mock-scholarly notes and apparatus, Senhouse was introduced to him, by Strachey, as a possible consultant. In the event, Senhouse proved to be of little help with the project: in 1928, Douglas wrote to Strachey, “I have finished the limerick book. So you needn’t bother the poor Roger (appropriate name)”. Perhaps, as Douglas implies, Senhouse had spent too much time living up to his Christian name to work on the book. If so, he must have had a Titanic carnal appetite for Douglas to have felt that he could safely accuse him of overactivity in the loin department. Douglas, after all, had boasted, in 1923, that he had had sex with 1100 virgins - and that was just the girls. Whether Senhouse (or, indeed, the other owner of this book, Lucian Freud) was able to compete with Douglas on this front we will, perhaps, never know, but he was certainly his match as a compiler and composer of naughty limericks as this example from the book, in Senhouse’s hand, attests:

There once was a lady B.A.
Who invented a problem one day
“O, how would it be,
If C.U.N.T.
Were divided by C.O.C.K?

A don who was then passing by
Invited the lady to try
He did the division
With utmost precision:
The result was a B.A.B.Y”