Secret Rose: special edition gift book
Each of the 500 numbered copies of this unique collector's edition has now been signed, lovingly wrapped, and dispatched directly from me to its buyer or chosen reader.
If you're interested in knowing more about the crowdfunded special edition, and the publishing history of WB Yeats's book of short stories, The Secret Rose, which inspired my novel, read on.
Secret Rose: Special edition gift book
A crowdfunder (see below) enabled me to create this beautiful piece of visual and literary art, in celebration of WB Yeats 15oth anniversary in 2015.
This special edition was two-books-in-one: Yeats's first book of short stories, The Secret Rose, together with my novel, Her Secret Rose, about his relationship with Maud Gonne, his muse, at the time of writing the stories. (Similarity of titles no coincidence).
And all in a special replica edition of that first 1898 production, reproducing its elegant navy-and-gold binding and mystical symbols, as designed by Yeats's friend Althea Gyles. He described her art as being ‘full of [the sort of] abundant and passionate life which brought to mind Blake’s cry, “Exuberance is beauty” and Samuel Palmer’s command to the artist: “Always seek to make excess more abundantly excessive”.
I adored its exuberance and excess and was thrilled to reproduce it using modern digital tech.
WB Yeats Secret Rose: The Publishing History
It's not just the book's physical properties — the detailed gold foiling stamped on navy cloth pictorial boards, the intricate Celtic and occult imagery — that make this book so uniquely special. It's that this volume brings Yeats Secret Rose stories as he originally envisaged, for the very first time.
When Yeats originally wrote his book of short stories, he had what he called a “definite plan”, for the book. The stories are all about the struggle between the spiritual and material life and he ordered them chronologically in the book, based on time era: from the birth of Christianity to the late 1890s.
He wanted to give the reader the experience of passing through era after era, all the way to the approach of the second millennium when he believed “our civilisation was about to reverse itself, or some new civilisation was about to be born from all our age had rejected.”
The last two stories were highly mystical and the final words were to be a short prayer, in English and Irish, that integrated Christian and Gaelic mystical belief.
This mix of old and new, pagan and Christian is the point towards which all the stories in the book aim.
But Yeats's publisher had other ideas.
He insisted on the removal of the final two stories as a condition of publication, breaking the chronological and thematic structure the writer had so carefully constructed, eviscerating the meaning of his book.
We don't have any record of how Yeats felt about this, but we can imagine how devastating it must have been.
So one thing I wanted to do with this special edition was to put all the stories back together in one volume, as Yeats originally intended. And to tell the story behind their creation.
As an indie author, I work mainly in digital but for Yeats2015, I wanted to create a special print book and to bring these neglected stories to the attention of Yeats fans. For me, it was a labor of love and an act of homage to the writer who has most inspired me — by his life as much as his work, his unfailing dedication to the spiritual and creative dimensions of life.
WB Yeats was an indie author
It surprised me in researching the 1897 book’s publishing history to find out that WB Yeats was an indie author too, as we define that at ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors: working closely with his friend Althea Gyles on the design and seeing himself as the creative director of the book, all the way through the publication process.
For the reader, it's a book to savor. Yeats's stories are challenging, but reward close reading. They give a unique portrait of the artist as a young man, to borrow the title of another more famous but less ambitious Irish book.
More accessible is my novel, which has its own story to tell and creative intentions to fulfil, but which I hope also serves as an introduction to the young WB Yeats work.
You can read more about the challenges of creating this Victorian replica using up-to-date digital technology here, in The Bookseller Magazine.
WB Yeats Secret Rose Crowdfunder Thanks
I want to say a huge “Thank You!”
to my wonderful readers and Yeats fans who supported the crowdfunded project that made this special book possible.
Friends and patrons, I am so grateful to you for your support and hope you enjoyed being involved in this special project for #Yeats2015.
Drumroll please!….. and my deepest thanks to you, without whom I couldn't have made it:
- Rachel Abbott
- Thomas Ball
- Colette Bleaky
- Rory Carroll
- Ethel Chiodeli
- Yvonne Clark
- Frances Cooney
- Mags Cullingford
- Kathy Dillon
- Maura Dolan
- George Patrick Dovel
- Kathleen Duke
- Lorna Fergusson
- Tessa Floreano
- Voula Greenfield
- Deirdre Hassett
- Karen Inglis
- Desmond Kelly
- Annette Kealy
- Helen Langford
- CJ Lyons
- Catherine MacKerchar
- Cathal McCarthy
- Conor McCarthy
- Eoin McCarthy
- Justine McGrath
- Jean Murray
- Phil Mason
- Phil Murphy
- Robert Moss
- Jean Murray
- Fidelma O'Neill
- Yen Ooi
- CJ Lyons
- Jean Murray
- Danny O'Sullivan
- Joanna Penn
- Rohan Quine
- Aya Reinaos
- Joni Rodgers
- Catrien Ross
- Caitlin Savannah
- Lindsay Stanberry Flynn
- Valerie Shanley
- Anne Shine
- JJ Toner
- Peter Urpeth
- Debbie Young