Rediscovered: Sidney-Fryer to Sabato

The month kicked off with talk about Donald Sidney-Fryer’s book Songs and Sonnets Atlantean and we may as well whip out a Worm Ouroborus move by going out with yet more DSF and S&SA to sign off June.

Martin Stever has been on the tour in years past, and keeps his thumb on the pulse by checking Mean Streets — he just shipped in the image above of the inscription in his copy of S&SA after reading my account of picking up a variety of inscribed copies.

The Stever copy is pretty interesting. Obviously one of an unknown number of copies DSF flat-signed with his name and title as Last of the Courtly Poets. Until better evidence shows up, I think of these copies as signed early in the life of the book.

Looks like a flat-signed copy was taken up and the actual inscription added later — different pen, pretty obvious even if you’re not Sherlock Holmes. The holograph strikes me as more typical of DSF’s hand a few years after the summer 1971 release, but we won’t get into the forensics now. With the colored pen DSF added a little paraph as a flourish to the final “d” in Donald, made the dash much bolder in the Sidney-Fryer (I wonder if the original dash struck him as just not marked enough — or possibly he may have signed some copies without the dash, just his birth name Donald Sidney Fryer, and needed to update it). And he followed Poets with a period — I’ve seen other flat-signed autographs with and without the period.

Martin’s copy once belonged to Sabato Fiorello, pretty famous as a Gay Artist (since it’s Pride Month, quite fitting for this occasion). He died January 13, 2017 at the age of 79. I’ll have to check with Martin to see if he landed the item after the estate was broken up, or if it had gone out into the marketplace earlier.

If you read DSF’s autobio Hobgoblin Apollo you’ll get some of his history as a Gay Man, or as I think of it in his case, Mostly Gay (like “Mostly dead” in The Princess Bride).

Fritz Leiber was telling me once how L. Sprague de Camp (pronounced El Spray guh dee Kamp) kept asking him after seeing DSF do his flamboyant poetry performance at the First World Fantasy Convention in Providence, 1975: “Honest, that Donald Sidney-Fryer was in the Marines???!!!”

Sure. Check his autobio. The Marines. You can be a Marine and a Last Courtly Poet, too. A bit too complicated for a linear thinker like de Camp, perhaps.

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