Lot 101
  • 101

Butler, Bill--Unicorn Press

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Archive principally relating to publications by the Unicorn Press, mostly typescripts, page proofs, and correspondence, comprising:
  • ink on paper
J.G. Ballard, file on his pamphlet “Why I want to Fuck Ronald Reagan” comprising a typescript and page proof (in total 11 pages), six letters (three autograph and three typed) signed by Ballard to Butler, together with retained copies of five typed letters by Butler, 1965-70; Jeff Nuttall, one folder containing four autograph manuscript notebooks with additional leaves loosely inserted, including draft love poems and essays (“The Importance of Difficulty”, “The Nature of Vision”, “The Function of Failure”, “The Menacing Eye”) as well as self-portraits and other sketches, in total c.175 pages, plus blanks, with related typescripts and proofs, also a second folder relating to “Man Not Man”; also files on works by Kirby Congdon (2), Michael Moorcock, Leslie Fielder, Tom Disch, Eric Mottram (2), Alan Feldman, Kenneth White (5), Aleister Crowley (Photostat setting copy of The Book of the Law), Anselm Hollo, Michael McClure, Jack Kerouac (correspondence with estate), Robert Silverberg, John Roman Baker, and others (in total housed in 36 labelled folders); papers relating to Butler’s 1968 obscenity trial with court reports, notes of evidence, speeches, witness depositions, and photocopies of allegedly obscene publications, July 1968; also 8mm film reel labelled “Kenneth Rexroth SA”, and miscellaneous printed matter

Catalogue Note

An extensive archive relating to a seminal radical press of the late 1960s. Bill Butler was an American poet and bookseller with strong links to the Beats and his Unicorn Press - which ran alongside his Unicorn Bookshop in Brighton - published experimental "underground" works including poetry, radical sci-fi, and works with openly gay subject matter. His trial followed a police raid on the Unicorn Bookshop in which various publications - including Ballard's provocative pamphlet - were seized. Various sympathetic writers, academics and other expert witnesses spoke in defence of the literary merit of the allegedly obscene publications but Butler was convicted and fined £400 plus costs by magistrates "appalled ... at the filth that has been produced in this court".