York Beach, Maine USA: The Teitan Press, 2009. First Edition. Hardcover. 8vo. xxiv + 128pp. Red cloth with gilt titling to spine. Frontispiece & 8 pages of color & black and white illustrations. Edition limited to 880 numbered copies. Book is in new unread condition.
Thorn in the Flesh. comprises poetry (often humorous), reminiscences, and various occult jottings, by Rosaleen Norton, with reproductions of two stunning photographs of Norton, as well as some half-a-dozen examples of her art (mainly in color).
Rosaleen Norton, the author of the work, was a natural rebel whose bohemian lifestyle, outspoken occultism, and unusual and often sexually-charged artwork attracted widespread condemnation from the conservative establishment. She suffered frequent arrest, her art exhibitions were raided, a book of her art banned, and in one notorious case, her paintings burned at the censor’s order. She died in relative obscurity in 1979, yet left the world a rich and unusual artistic legacy. Some of this was hidden away in two battered metal trunks which contained fragments of her unfinished autobiography, Thorn in the Flesh, various occult writings, letters, drawings, poems, photographs, small paintings, and scrapbooks. It was Norton’s wish that one day a selection would be made from this material, and it would be published. This book is that selection.
Most of this material has never been publicly seen before. Although by definition fragmentary, the texts combine to give a very personal introduction to the magical world of this truly remarkable woman. They are accompanied by an Introduction by Keith Richmond, who has previously edited a collection of Norton’s short stories: ‘Three Macabre Stories,’ and played a key role in organizing the “Occult Visions of Rosaleen Norton” retrospective of her art that was held in Sydney in 2000.