ROLFE, Frederick William, Baron Corvo. 16794



Autograph Letter Signed ‘Fr. Rolfe’, to his solicitors, Barnard and Taylor, discussing the publication of Don Tarquinio, with mention of Hadrian VII, and outlining the parlous state of his finances and prospects. 1 page 9 x 6 inches, with integral blank leaf, in very good condition. Broadstairs, 28 May 1905. Frederick William Rolfe (1860-1913), known as Baron Corvo, author of Hadrian VII (1904) and other works. “I am inclined to think that Don Tarquinio is a foundation on which one may build.” Writing ten days after the publication of Don Tarquinio Rolfe reports to his solicitor that the “first reviews… are favourable – more favourable than those of Hadrian the Seventh, in that they proclaim the books as possessing interest for the general as distinguished from the particular reader”. A romance, the book tells the story of how Don Tarquinio’s fortunes turn on a service rendered to Cesare Borgia. ‘Rolfe’s delight in Rome and all things Italian, his delight in the male human body and in the rich elegance of Renaissance princelings, and his familiarity will all these served him well in this production of this… ingenious story… both totally and charmingly artificial’ (Benkovitz, p.169). Rolfe had begun work on Don Tarquinio as early as 1900, mentioning it together with Hadrian in a letter to Kenneth Grahame on 21 December, but was published by Francis Griffiths on 18 May 1905. Rolfe suggests the publication could mark a turn in his own fortunes, providing details of hoped-for earnings over the ensuing months but – still too poor to travel to London from Kent – he politely asks “Kindly let me know as early as possible what more you are prepared to do”. Meanwhile he remained “[with] no means to move… camping out in [his mother’s] empty house” at Broadstairs.