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Scamp by Roland Camberton / John Minton first edition 1950

Scamp by Roland Camberton / John Minton first edition 1950


London: John Lehmann, 1950 


8vo., orange publisher’s cloth, with painted green labels decorated in gilt to spine; complete in the original publisher’s dust jacket designed by John Minton (9s. 6d. net); pp. [iv], 5-256, endpapers lightly offset; pages evenly, and marginally, toned, a little spotting to the half-title; else a very good copy with slight compression to extremities, the jacket retaining much of its brightness, light nicks and chips to spine ends; verso a little browned; ever-so-slightly dulled along the spine. 


First edition of Camberton’s first novel. 


Scamp is set in Bloomsbury, Soho, and Fitzrovia, and tells the story of Ivan Ginsberg, who occupies at rat-infested bathroom-kitchen attempting to write stories for a stillborn literary magazine. The novel received mixed reviews upon publication, with Maclaren-Ross claiming that its author “appeared to be devoid of any narrative gift”. It was, however, awarded the Somerset Maugham prize the following year. On meeting his benefactor, Camberton later reported "He asked if I wanted tea or whisky. And I said whisky. Maugham said, 'That's right, good show! I'm going to have both.' And then we put English fiction to the sword."


Camberton, whose real name was Henry Cohen, wrote just one other novel, Rain on the Pavements before he disappeared, both from the literary scene, and from everyday life. In an article written for the Guardian, the writer Iain Sinclar claims that he died young, and reveals the existence of an estranged daughter. Sinclair is almost single-handedly responsible for the renewed interest in his writing, which gathered further momentum in 2021, the centenary of the author's birth. 

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