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Fort's Early Publisher Victim Of Murder


Android Futureman
Aug 7, 2002
Thought some folks might enjoy this article:

The most notorious and successful of the Claude Kendall books were four novels authored by Tiffany Ellsworth Thayer, aka “Tiffany Thayer.” With several hundred thousand copies sold during the early 1930s, the Tiffany Thayer novels, particularly Thirteen Men and Thirteen Women, earned Claude Kendall a great deal of publicity. Other controversial books from the early 1930s that bore the Kendall name include: the first American edition of Octave Mirbeau’s Torture Garden, a primary text of the Decadent Movement originally published in France in 1899, of which pulp writer Jack Woodford expressed his amazement that Claude Kendall had been able to publish its “splendid” edition (“I don’t see how it would be possible to write a more ‘dangerous’ book [from the standpoint of the censor] yet it was published.”); Mademoiselle de Maupin, an American edition of Théophile Gautier’s gender-bending 1835 novel about a real-life French cross-dresser; G. Sheila Donisthorpe’s Loveliest of Friends, a novel dealing with lesbianism; Cecil De Lenoir’s seedy The Hundredth Man: Confessions of a Drug Addict; Beth Brown’s Man and Wife, about prostitution and the divorce racket; Lionel Houser’s Lake of Fire, described as a “bizarre tale of identity theft, mutilation, lust and murder, provocatively illustrated with strikingly explicit woodcuts”; R. T. M. Scott’s, The Mad Monk, purportedly about the early life of Rasputin; Lo! and Wild Talents, two of Charles Fort’s bizarre collections of “anomalous phenomena”; and, last but not least, Frank Walford’s Twisted Clay, a lurid tale, recently reprinted, about a psychopathic, patricidal bisexual female serial killer that was banned by government authorities in both Canada and Australia. (“She loved…and killed…both men and women,” promised Twisted Clay’s salacious jacket blurb.)
Thanks for posting that! :loveu:

In the context of the period, "shocking" books were those which merely alluded to taboo topics. Like cinema posters, the lurid dust-jackets promised decadent treats within; the curious reader could seldom enjoy his or her taboo untrammelled by heavy moral sermonizing.

Today, these volumes would mainly be rated PG, at most!

Personally, I rather like lashings of stern disapproval to accompany my vices, which otherwise seem horribly banal. I wonder what our favourite tubby, walrus-faced author made of the other titles on his publisher's lists? Is any of his damned data risqué?

I suppose his volumes could be prefaced by one of those sonorous warnings the BBC used once-upon-a-time:

"Readers are warned that Mr Fort's speculations may upset those of a nervous disposition . . . " :oops:
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Horribly banal, James W? Your vices? Then Mademoiselle de Maupin is a book for you, sir! M. Gautier wrote in his preface for it:
"If you choose to read this book, lock yourself securely into your own room; do not leave it lying on the table. If your wife and your daughter should open it, they would be lost.—This is a dangerous book, it advises vicious habits. . . . for it is a deplorable thing that young writers should sacrifice the most sacred things to success, and should expend their talent—a notable talent by the way—in lewd descriptions that would make a captain of dragoons blush.—(The virginity of the captain of dragoons is, after the discovery of America, the most delightful discovery that has been made for a long while.)"


How thrilling that this book was based on a real historical person—a woman who was an opera singer AND a fencing master! Born into Louis XIV's court no less!