Inscribed to Richard Yates
BARR, James [pseud. FUGATE, James]


New York: Greenberg, 1950

8vo, pp. 373. Original black boards, lettered and decorated in gilt on front panel and spine. A bright, tight copy in the pictorial dustwrapper, a little edgeworn, with some chipping to spine ends, and a closed lateral tear to spine centre. Very good.

First edition of the author's first book, INSCRIBED BY BARR TO RICHARD YATES on the front free endpaper: 'To: My dearest friend, Dick Yates, with my very best wishes always. James Barr New York 1959.' In the late 1950s both Barr and the novelist Richard Yates were contributors to the New Yorker.

Described by Roger Austen as 'one of the most intelligently written of American gay novels', and 'one of the earliest novels that could have produced a glow of gay pride.' Barr was born in rural America, where his sexuality saw him cast out by both his family and the wider community, and where he saw his (gay) best friend commit suicide on his wedding day. Quatrefoil, semi-autobiographical and unashamed, charts the central characters' progress as they come to terms with their sexuality, each other, themselves and the world around them. It eschews all gay stereotypes, and was written at the suggestion of Barr's psychiatrist 'as a key to solving [Barr's] problems at the time'. Although overwritten for today's taste, and with a melodramatic ending, Quatrefoil quickly became a rallying point for the gay readership of the 1950s, a readership delighted at last to have been written about with insight, accuracy and a modicum of style.

One of the first true works of gay literature -- as opposed to gay fiction-- and certainly the first ever to be published by a mainstream imprint.

An important book with a fine association.

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