# 22617

OXENHAM, John (pseud.) [DUNKERLEY, William Arthur, 1852-1941]

[WESTERN AUSTRALIA] His cheque book.

Being twenty-five pages from the life of one Plantagenet Pym, which register, with the incorruptible accuracy of an animated photograph, his essays among numerous grades of society; recording his enterprises – financial, social and heroic; and delighting the reader by the chastened spirit of his last appearance. Both in the counterfoils of the cheques, and in the scenes depicted opposite them, will be found carefully revealed at least one way of expending a hundered and fifty thousand pounds, with a minimum of exertion, and with considerable profit to various classes of men and women. Cover title: The story of his cheque book. [sl] : [s.n.], [c. 1895]. Oblong octavo, pictorial wrappers (detached and chipped), [52] pp, printed recto only (i.e. in the form of a cheque book), each page with a satirical illustration (artists include Lewis Baumer, Yorick, Max Cowper, S. Adamson, Dudley Hardy, S.H. Sime, and Penryn Stanley) describing the circumstances which have led to that particular cheque being written. With his playboy lifestyle, Mr Pym fritters his money away in a profligate manner – gambling, prostitutes, champagne, showgirls, a yacht – and the final cheque is for a fare to “West Australia”, the illustration for which shows him travelling in steerage; clean throughout.

An ingenious satirical work by William Dunkerley, who wrote under his own name as well as using the pen names John Oxenham and Julian Ross. Dunkerley was a poet, journalist and novelist, best known for his volume of verse Bees In Amber (1913). He was also a major contributor to Jerome K. Jerome’s The Idler magazine. Of the artists who feature in The Story of His Cheque Book, Max Cowper (1860-1911) is probably the best known. Along with Hardy and Baumer, he had his work published in the Illustrated London News. The reference to “West Australia” on the final page is topical, and is helpful in dating the book: the Western Australian gold rush commenced in the early 1890s and was at its height in 1895, drawing seekers of fortune from all over the world. The “cheques” in the book are all “dated” 1894.

Rare. OCLC locates only one copy (National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum); the present copy would appear to be only the second known. Perhaps the two extant copies are both proofs, as the blank space on the front cover after the phrase ‘Published by’ suggests the work may never have been published.

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