The Happy Hypocrite



BEERBOHM, Max The Happy Hypocrite


The original autograph manuscript. 54 hand written pages on 53 foolscap leaves, all but one leaf written on rectos only with extensive deletions, emendations and periodic marginalia throughout. Ten of the versos contain drawings by Beerbohm. Initial notes "To the type-writer - The marks in red chalk merely signify the beginning of a fresh paragraph and are not to be reproduced. / Please be very careful about punctuation / The long lines in red chalk signify a fresh part of the story and are to be reproduced." All bound in full emerald morocco and housed within a cloth chemise and slipcase. Near fine condition, the first page of manuscript is a little browned and slightly worn from storage before the manuscript was bound and some offsetting from Beerbohm's brushstroke deletions, but generally very fresh. The binding, probably commissioned shortly after 1907, shows a little wear to the corners but is in excellent condition.

The complete original manuscript of Beerbohm's first work of fiction and one of the most notable and enduring short stories of the 1890s.
Beerbohm appears to have written The Happy Hypocrite in the spring of 1896 and sent the manuscript to John Lane. Lane liked the work, however he thought it too short to make a book of it, but agreed to take it for publication in The Yellow Book, in which it appeared in October 1896. Its immediate success is perhaps the reason that, despite his reservations, Lane published it separately as the first of the Bodley Booklets in April 1897.
No preliminary drafts of The Happy Hypocrite are known and this manuscript appears to be the fully formed conception and refinement of the work in a single document, resulting in a text in its final iteration, as published in The Yellow Book and subsequently.
It was written in Beerbohm's habitual style at the time, on foolscap sheets of Wessex Antique laid paper, his fanciful hand in Chinese ink, with the characteristic use of a paintbrush dipped in Chinese ink to blot unwanted words, phrases and sentences, rendering them indecipherable.
In discussing his manuscript for Zuleika Dobson, Beerbohm neatly encapsulates the value and interest in his manuscripts to the scholar
"It has, for anybody who is interested in the art of writing, this value: that it shows the sentences in the act of growing, and of being pruned and tended. Also it has interspersed in it here and there scribbled caricatures done to refresh the fatigued scribe."
Like the Zuleika Dobson manuscript, The Happy Hypocrite is also punctuated with sketches and drawings, which are a notable addition particularly given Beerbohm's equal status as writer and artist. Ten of the blank versos contain drawings and a further drawing sits in the margin of one of the pages of text. Four of these pages are studies of hands and the remainder are mostly fully formed drawings of the characters, mainly Lord George, at the various stages of the narrative. These drawings, far from idle doodling, appear to be a part of the creative process, helping to create or cement a visual image of the characters described in the story.

PROVENANCE Max Beerbohm (marked up for printing in The Yellow Book 1896); apparently given away by the author c.1900; sold at Anderson Galleries May 1907, "his most famous piece of work"; at some point acquired by the Roosevelt or Witney families, possibly John Hay Whitney, whose extensive art collection contained a number of pieces of the 1890s by Beardsley and Beerbohm; by descent to Sara Wilford (1932-2021, adopted daughter of John Hay Whitney).

Stock ID: 42853


To order this book, please call us on +44 (0)1491 576427 or send us a message using the contact form for more information.

Register interest Add to favourites

Browse related books

The Works of Max Beerbohm



The Life of Charlotte Bronte

GASKELL, Elizabeth Cleghorn


Uncle Silas

LE FANU, J. Sheridan








Northanger Abbey: And Persuasion.



The Works

SURTEES, Robert Smith



JAMES, Henry


Cunning Murrell



To London Town



Last Poems

BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett



TROLLOPE, Anthony / [THACKERAY, William Makepeace]


The Hall and the Hamlet

HOWITT, William


The Kicklebury's on the Rhine

[THACKERAY, William Makepeace] / TITMARSH, M.A.


John Woodvil

LAMB, Charles


The Newcomes

THACKERAY, William Makepeace



HUGO, Victor


Dealings With the Firm of Dombey and Son

DICKENS, Charles



TAYLOR, Theodore / [THACKERAY, William Makepeace]


Lady Windermere's Fan

WILDE, Oscar