Monday 13 August 2012

The Circe Complex by Desmond Cory: Signed First Edition (Macmillan, 1975), plus US First Edition (Doubleday, 1975)

From one signed Desmond Cory novel – although signed in that instance by the dust jacket designer, Val Biro – to another signed Desmond Cory novel – and this time the book has been signed by Mr. Cory himself...

Published by Macmillan in 1975 – Cory's first book for that particular publisher – The Circe Complex is a standalone work about a psychiatrist, Ollie Milton, whose girlfriend Valerie enlists his aid in springing her husband from prison in order to track down the jewellery hubby stole (Kirkus review here). The dust jacket of the Macmillan edition was designed by Yves Simard, who also illustrated jackets and interiors for Charles Dennis and Gavin Lambert, and who worked as a graphic artist on Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man!, the 1973 sequel to If (1968).

Compared to the majority of Cory's earlier Johnny Fedora spy thrillers, copies of The Circe Complex are in relatively plentiful supply: AbeBooks has nine listed at present. None of those, however, are signed, whereas my copy is:

On the front free endpaper, and inscribed, to Pete, whoever he may be. Indeed, there are very, very few signed copies of any of Cory's novels around; I can only see one online at present, a signed and again inscribed copy of the US Walker edition of Deadfall (1965), which makes me wonder if, like Gavin Lyall (who I'll be returning to shortly), Cory only signed books for friends and acquaintances.

Speaking of American editions of Cory's novels, the signed Macmillan edition of The Circe Complex isn't the only copy of the book I own; I also have this:

The US edition, published by Doubleday in 1975, with a dust jacket designed by noted children's book illustrator Wendell Minor. I bought this from famed book dealer Jamie Sturgeon when I visited him at his house back in May, along with a stack of other crime and spy novels by the likes of Geoffrey Household, Manning O'Brine, Dan J. Marlowe and more. Those books will be filtering onto Existential Ennui over the coming months, but I have some more recent acquisitions from Jamie that I'll be blogging about next, a selection of novels by a British thriller writer, two of which boast intriguing inscriptions, and the third of which contains a remarkable piece of paraphernalia...


  1. I have a few Cory novels signed and dedicated by the author, and that autograph seems one hundred per cent legit. As for the reference to "Pete", this could be the film director Peter Duffell as Cory had worked with him on the film "England made Me" (1973) and there had been tentative plans for "The Honorary Consul", but I believe these were shelved for whatever reason.

    Thank you for all the stirling work you've been doing covering the novels of this excellent writer!

  2. Nick - you are right. Cory rarely signed his books, and mostly to friends. If it is for Peter Duffell (I think JMC is right) then it's definitely a copy worth hanging onto. Peter was a BAFTA award winner and film director who in addition to working with Cory on some screen-plays is better known for films like The Far Pavilions.
    So, it looks like you got real lucky with this find. I met him once in the 1980s - nice guy.

  3. Thank you to the both of you for the Peter Duffell info -- sounds like it could well be him. And good to hear my guess about Cory only signing for friends was correct! Makes a change, eh?