In February, I documented what I thought was strange case about Fanny Hill. Or more precisely, a certain edition of the book. Within a week of making a post, another copy of that same addition appeared on eBay, this one with its illustrations found into the book — satisfying proof that the unbound illustrations accompanied my copy did indeed belong to this edition.
Left completely unsatisfied was the question: Was the book actually and Isidore Liseux edition? I remained suspicious. The illustrations look nothing like what appeared in erotic fiction at the turn-of-the-century, and something about the art style reminded me of early 20-century cartooning, more along the lines of Prince valiant from the funny pages than anything else.
I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this earlier, but this time around I consulted Sheryl Straight’s website Erotobibliophile, a treasure trove of bibliographic details. Sure enough, she had listings of both English and French languaged Fanny Hill editions. And there, as well, she had my answer.
The addition that puzzled me was, as I suspected, a pirated version, attributed to the “Miller Brothers.”
The Miller Brothers were obscure contemporaries of Sam Roth, Esar Levine, and Ben Rebhuhn, all clandestine erotica publishers in New York City during the Great Depression. Little’s known about the brothers, other than their preference for pirating and printing well-known works and populating them with explicit illustrations.
I realized after the fact that I had another work attributed to them, namely one of the two volume of The Modern Evangeline.
So mystery solved! Next time this happens, I better remember to dig a little deeper and mine a little harder because the data was just one vein away!
Although, I wonder… that three-volume set of The Pearl. The one that I learned from a noted book dealer was likely from the 1920s edition of that famous magazine? I wonder if the Miller Brothers had anything to do with it? A new mystery ensues…