The Cobra King - Oswell Blakeston

Wry Press


The Cobra King by Oswell Blakeston, foreword by Ian Young / small 68-page paperback with flaps, 4.5 x 7 inches, published in a small edition by WRY Press


WRY Press is proud to bring into print the first book of literature by the marvelous (& nearly forgotten) Oswell Blakeston in over four decades.

Oswell Blakeston (poet, experimental filmmaker, painter, mystery novelist, cookbook & travel author) was the pseudonym of Henry Joseph Hasslacher (1907-1985). A key yet now largely neglected early English Modernist, from the 1920s until his death in 1985, he was vigorously active across several generations of avant-garde art scenes. Intimate friend of Bryher, H.D., Kenneth Macpherson, and Dylan Thomas among many other notable figures. Editor and contributor to the famed modernist film magazine of the 1920s & 30s, Close-Up, a writer of unusual and oblique mystery novels, Blakeston also crafted exquisite poetic miniatures that landed in many of the finest small mags of the day. Author of dozens of books, over the years his champions included Stefan & Franciszka Themerson’s Gaberbocchus Press, Asa & Pip Benveniste’s Trigram Press, and Dennis Cooper’s Little Caesar Press. In the late 1930s he met the painter Max Chapman —the two would remain life partners until Blakeston’s death in 1985. The Cobra King is comprised of a complete, finished manuscript found amongst his papers, and features dazzling little poems of love and lust —what in one letter he referred to as his “beefcake” poems — both slyly erotic and full of cryptic, hidden meanings.

Ian Young is a Toronto-based writer. His books include Sex Magick, Encounters with Authors, Out in Paperback: A Visual History of Gay Pulps, and London Skin & Bones: The Finsbury Park Stories. He was the publisher of Oswell Blakeston's novella Pass the Poison Separately (Catalyst, 1976).

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