The Songs of Bilitis in English, Les Chansons de Bilitis, Pierre Louys, translated by H. M. Brown

Pierre Louÿs

The Songs of Bilitis (1894) (in English, translated from the French – Les Chansons de Bilitis)

Translated by Horace Manchester Brown

Privately printed for members of the Aldus Society, London and New York  (1904)

One of just 3 Author’s Copies on Imperial Japanese vellum with hand-coloured initials and signed by Brown. (Of a total edition of 971)

Containing  four original etchings by James Fagan, each of which is presented in three states, one before letters, one signed, and one coloured, one of which is a portrait of  Louÿs, the other three illustrations. Twelve etchings in all.

Elegant and decorative art noveau covers in grey morocco with a design in gilt and red and green morocco onlays, and morocco doublures.   

Some staining to inner cover sheets and occasional foxing which is mainly to the tissue guards. The internal pages and their hand-coloured initals are very good. Cover is a little rubbed and marked, particularly at the joints.

This rare and very attractive volume with its luxurious art nouveau covers and beautiful hand-coloured initials to every page contains one of the few English translations of this classic work by Pierre Louÿs. 

£550   (For euros and US dollars please refer to current exchange rates).

This item can easily be posted within the UK and to Europe, the USA and to many International destinations. We will quote for postage.

The Songs of Bilitis  (Les Chansons de Bilitis)  by  Pierre Louÿs and published in Paris in 1894, is a collection of erotic poetry with strong lesbian themes.  The story behind the creation of the work is intriguing and indeed, contains plenty of intrigue, as Louÿs claimed that the poems were discovered from an authentic ancient Greek source, and inscribed upon the walls of a tomb in Cyprus by Bilitis, a courtesan who was a contemporary of Sappho. It was a  claim that at first convinced the experts. Eventually the deception was discovered, yet the work was seen as so remarkable a forgery and of having such worth in itself that the author was generally forgiven and the verses aclaimed as worthy evocations of Lesbian sexuality. 

Louÿs made a personal dedication at the beginning:

‘This little book of antique love is respectfully dedicated to the youg ladies of the society of the future.’

***There are links below to guide you on how to purchase and also to the biographical details of the artist. Additionally there is a link below if you are interested in our section on articles and writings on Symbolist Art History and Symbolism.***

Share This Item