[Rolando Pieraccini, Italian sculptor, author and publisher ('Eurographica').] 43 Typed Letters Signed to playwright Christopher Fry, regarding the publication of signed limited editions of his works.

Author: 
Rolando Pieraccini [Roland Pieraccini], Italian sculptor and publisher ('Eurographica'), settled in Finland [Christopher Fry (1907-2005), playwright]
Publication details: 
Earlier letters on letterheads of his Helsinki publishing house Eurographica; later letters on his personal Helsinki letterhead. Between 1984 and 1996.
£2,000.00
SKU: 21957

43 letters in 8vo and 12mo, making a total of 44 pp. Signed 'Rolando Pieraccini' and (latterly) 'Rolando'. Thirteen of the letters (1984-1986; all 8vo) on 'Eurographica' letterhead, the others (1986-1996; 27 in 12mo and 3 in 8vo) on Pieraccini's personal letterhead. Also present is a carbon copy of a two-page letter from Pieraccini to Penny Eckley of Oxford University Press, regarding copyright matters. The collection in good condition, lightly-aged. Pieraccini published several limited editions of Fry's works for the Finnish market, and the correspondence is by turns businesslike, courteous and personal. Pieraccini begins by introducing himself: 'I am a publisher of art books. During recent years I have also started publishing a series of short stories in different languages in Signed Limited Editions (350 copies, printed in Italy on special hand-made paper). | I have already published a Play in one act by Graham Greene, short stories by Erskine Caldwell, Alan Paton, Leonardo Sciascia, Norman Mailer (also a play), Luise Rinser and am now working on short stories and plays by Ionesco, Heinrich Böll, John Updike, Italo Calvino, Halldor Laxness, Anthony Burgess, etc.' He explains that he will be 'very pleased and honoured to publish any play or short story', if Fry has 'something suitable for my project'. He explains the specifications, including the way in which the 'signing operation is made simple'. On 23 December 1984 he writes in response to Fry's reply, stating that he has 'read the three plays with great interest and curiosity, and that 'A Phoenix Too Frequent' will make a beautiful and valuable book'. He discusses the terms, noting that Fry is 'very generously, not overvaluing your signature and the time you will need to sign 350 frontispiece pages, which, with no hurry, should not be more than two hours'. Regarding his 'outright fee' he states: 'I must tell you that only in one case I have paid $3.00 per copy, but it was in the case of perhaps the greatest contemporary author, [Graham Greene?] who is, among other things, giving a very high value to his signature.' Subsequent letters discuss the practicalities of printing and publishing: proofs, payment, arrangement with Fry's British publisher Oxford University Press, difficulties with Italian customs, and other matters. On 15 January 1985, following a mix-up over payment in dollars rather than pounds, he writes: 'I hope you and your agent will be satisfied with my offer anyway, if you like I am prepared to print 12 extra copies of the book for your personal use, as I have done for Mr. Graham Greene. Have you perhaps still the original manuscripts of this play? It would be a wonderful idea to have a few pages of it reproduced as well in my Signed Limited Edition, as again I have done in the case of Mr. Greene play YES AND NO.' In March 1985 he asks Fry to inscribe copies, 'one for Mrs. Tellervo Koivisto, wife of the President of the Republic of Finland; one for the Helsinki University or Helsinki University Library and one for myself'. In April 1985 he asks if it might be possible for him to have a signed photograph, as 'Every year, in December, I hold an exhibition of the books I have published during the year, together with manuscripts, proofs, photographs, etc. relating to the authors published during the year'. Three months later he asks for another signed photograph 'that I could have kept after the exhibition for myself (the greedy collector)'. On 27 May 1985 he asks him 'to write for me by hand on one of your small letterheads a few lines from A Phoenix Too Frequent? For instance what Dynamene says at the very end of the comedy? This short “manuscript” would go very well on the exhibition together with the photograph.' Letters between 1986 and 1987 relate to a similar edition of 'The Lady's Not for Burning', and on 8 June 1987 he explains difficulties in typesetting the text. Subsequent letters discuss the practicalities of printing and publishing: proofs, payment, arrangement with Fry's British publisher Oxford University Press, difficulties with Italian customs, and other matters. On 15 July 1987 he suggests delivering Fry's copies in person, on 'a short afternoon visit' to Chichester, but it is only in 1991 that such a visit takes place, with Pieraccini thanking Fry (30 July 1991) for his hospitality, and adding: 'You live in a most beautiful place, in a very charming village, a real discovery for me.' In 1989 an edition of 'The Dark is Light Enough' is mooted, but plans have still not been finalised two years later. On 30 December 1990 he asks Fry whether he would like to contribute to 'another important project', a book 'as a tribute/homage to Julian Symons on the occasion of his 80th birthday (May 1982)'. He lists the numerous contributors he has lined up ('I have just started enquiring'). On 30 July 1991 he writes regarding another of Fry's plays: 'I have read Venus Observed and enjoyed it very much. It would certainly make a good book. However, as I have already mentioned to you when I first saw it, it is a rather long play and it would need even more pages than The Lady's which was itself a little bulky with the kind of paper we use. | If only possible I would really like to do something else with you this time, particularly in consideration of the special occasion next year we know. [i.e. Fry's 85th birthday]' As there is no time for a 'larger project' previously discussed, he asks: 'Could we think of something different? A selection of poems, for instance, a short story, a collection of thoughts or “philosophical” notes, or similar, something you have already written or you might have time to write by February-March next year'. An edition of Venus Observed is planned and then dropped at the beginning of 1994 due to 'such economic difficulties that the kind of books I produce do not sell anymore, at all. I think the many thousands I still have in stock will suffice at least for my next three lives' (23 January 1994). He asks Fry if he would consider leaving the typescript of the play 'with my archives and book collection, which will one day go to the Helsinki University Library'. On 22 March 1994 Pieraccini thanks Fry for being allowed 'to keep the manuscript of Venus Observed, a most valuable contribution to my collection'. Following another meeting at Fry's home The Toft, Pieraccini gives (22 April 1996) three suggestions for 'another project' to celebrate Fry's forthcoming ninetieth birthday, including 'A story of The Toft which could also mention East Dean and its inhabitants. With one/two photographs of the house and/or an etching by your artist-friend (I've forgotten his name, the one you collect)'. In the last letter, 13 July 1997 he expresses regret that 'our exciting project has fallen. It sounded so nice: 90 copies of 90 lines for your 90th birthday. Well, it will be for your 100th. With some inspiration and a little more time to spare I am sure you can write 100 beautiful verses.' Several letters veer into the personal. On 8 September 1986 he explains that his 'real first name, the one I still have in my Italian passport, is Rolando; but having spent almost half of my life (20-22 years) abroad, I got used to and I actually prefer to use the more European version of it, Roland'. On 8 January 1987 ('a lot of snow, -30º') Pieraccini writes of one of his art books: 'Onni Oja [Finnish artist, 1909-2004] was very pleased to know that you liked his work. Your good and generous words were also the best reward for me, as editor and publisher of the book. To complete one of such volumes I usually need about two years. | Well, yesterday I have mailed to you the other volume published in the same series, dedicated to the work of Veikko Vionoja, one of the greatest contemporary Finnish artists. I hope you like it as well and I'll be curious to know which of the two you and your family prefer.' On 27 November 1987 he complains of 'a hard autumn, which, besides the usual business rush, included also a painful illness (kidney stones or renal calculus), which took me to hospital'. On 5 December 1988 he states that he has 'recently attended a lecture on Peter Brook here in Helsinki', ad that he 'had the opportunity of mentioning his production of your play The Dark is Light Enough, in 1954. Although he had already proved his talent, Peter Brook was still quite young then'. He asks 'what kind of experience' it was to work with Brook.