Rare book seller Peter Harrington lists as new arrivals several presentation copies of books given to Robert and Angela Laycock. Robert was one of Waugh’s commanding officers in WWII. The first is a series of four copies of books sent to Angela (including three of Love Among the Ruins (1953)), with ever increasing frustration expressed by Waugh at not receiving a thank you note. These are described as follows:
A sequence of presentation copies chronicling Waugh’s humorous attack on Angie Laycock’s unresponsiveness when sent an inscribed copy of the book. The first book Waugh sent was number 29 of the deluxe issue of 350 large paper copies, inscribed by him on the limitation leaf, “For Darling Angie the Beardless Beauty, with love from Evelyn”. Laycock failed to respond to this presentation, and so Waugh sent her a copy of the first edition, trade issue. On the front free endpaper, he drew a snake in red and black ink and wrote in capitals, “I am a very austere snake. I don’t like editions de luxe. Give me the people’s edition & maybe I shall thank you”. When this was ignored, Waugh subjected another copy of the trade edition to violence, removing the front board and large portions of the dust jacket and soiling and tearing the contents. A snake in black ink graces the verso of the title page, where Waugh has written, “I’m a rough tough kind of snake. This is how I like books to be”. Finally, when no response was forthcoming, Waugh sent Laycock a blank book bound in red cloth. On the first leaf he drew an elaborately detailed snake and wrote “This edition is limited to one copy numbered, and signed by the author. No One” with “Anon” as the signature. In the blank spaces between the snakes coils he inscribed, “I am a simple little serpent. This is the only kind of book I can read”.
The “beardless beauty” in the inscription refers to the heroine in the novella. Photos of the inscriptions and drawings can be viewed at the link above the quote. The price for all four is £17,500.
Also on offer is a presentation copy of Basil Seal Rides Again (1963), inscribed “for Bob with love to Angie, Evelyn.” There were no subsequent copies, so either Bob must have sent a thank you note for this one, or, perhaps, Waugh did not expect one from him. The price is £3,750.