[A small archive of her books, photographs and related ephemera].

CRESSY-MARCKS Violet Olivia ([c.1915-1970].)

£3000.00  [First Edition]




CRESSY-MARKS (Violet). Up the Amazon and Over the Andes. First edition, special issue. Portrait frontispiece plus maps and numerous photographic plates. 8vo. Bound in full brown goatskin, gilt titles to spine. Thick paper copy. Minor scattered foxing, else a near fine copy. With the bookplate of Ernest Rutley to front pastedown and a gift inscription to front flyleaf "To Reg. With love from your Loving Sister Vie. Xmas 1932. Violet Cressy-Marcks." 336pp. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1932. A special author's edition, presented to her brother.


Up the Amazon and Over the Andes. First edition, special issue. A second copy. Tear to front free endpaper, binding slightly dusty, scattered foxing, without inscription. Very good plus. 


Up the Amazon and Over the Andes. First edition. Portrait frontispiece plus maps and numerous photographic plates. 8vo. Publisher's green cloth, gilt titles to spine. With a tatty dustwrapper, numerous chips and tape repairs. M336pp. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1932. With a loosely inserted photograph of an unknown nineteenth century couple standing on the deck of a ship. 


CRESSY-MARKS (Violet). Journey into China. First edition. Portrait frontispiece (loose) and numerous photographic plates. 8vo. With a very tatty dustwrapper, extensively repaired with tape and backed on linen and paper, soiled and in pieces, in a mylar sleeve.  Original blue cloth, gilt titles to spine, rubbed, good only. Ownership inscription to front pastedown "Violet Olivia Fisher 19 Princes Gate London". 324pp. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1940. Author's own copy. 


Journey into China. First edition. Second copy. Cloth worn and lightly soiled, small tear to headcap, good plus. 


Journey into China. First edition. Third copy. Cloth worn and soiled. Front free endpaper lacking. Good only.




A Lecture will be given by Violet Cressy-Marcks, F.R.G.S. entitled "Across Lapland into Russia, with Reindeers" ... Bifolium brochure, large 8vo, 2 halftone photographic illustrations, old folds, one a little soiled, nicks and creases at edges. 3 copies, two for the Opera House, Buxton, November 24th [1929], one for Garden Club, Chesterfield Gardens, January 19th [1931].


A lecture will be given ... "Up the Amazon Over the Andes to Inca Ruins"... Bifolium brochure, large 8vo. 2 halftone photographic illustrations, old folds, creases and closed tears at edges, one soiled. 2 copies. N.p., n.d., [c.1932].


Catalogue for Mrs. Violet Olivia Cressy-Marcks' Collection ... kindly leant in aid of the Conservative Bazaar. Halftone photographic and line drawn illustrations. Tall 8vo. Staplebound pamphlet, old folds, a little rust at staples, two copies with gift inscriptions addressed to her brother and her son. Self-wrappers, [8]pp. 3 copies. [October 1928].


Funeral programme Violet Olivia Fisher. 8vo. 4pp. 10th September 1970. 




Postcard signed. Addressed Mrs. G. Rutley. 20th Dec 1927.


15 real photo postcards sent to Master William Cressy-Marcks from locations across Europe, 7 blank to verso the rest with written messages. 1927-1928. 


T.L.S. Addressed 'Dear Reg.', 1p. Hazelwood, Herts, 3rd Jan 1933. 


7 printed Christmas cards, photographically illustrated with tipped on silver gelatine prints (5), or integral woodburytype (2). Printed messages inside from Violet and Frank Fisher. 1934-1941.  


Printed card acknowledging letters of condolence after the death of Lt. William Roy Cressy-Marcks. March, 1945. 




Real photo postcard of Cressy-Marcks all in white, inscribed in ink "Your loving Sister Violet". [c.1915].


Sepia print three quarters studio portrait of Cressy-Marks in an ermine fur coat, facial details touched up in pencil, slightly faded. 210 by 160mm. [c.1920].


15 photographs c.85 by 135mm. sent to her son William, from Europe and the Near East, many with pencil annotations to verso.


Silver gelatine print of Cressy-Marcks in bed after the birth of her second son, with her second husband Frank Fisher and first son William. 148 by 205mm. [1933].


Silver gelatine print, Harrow School Champ Fencers, including William Cressy-Marcks. Framed and glazed. 305 by 255mm. 1939.


Plus: a great deal of newspaper clippings concerning Cressy-Marcks' life and adventures.

A small family archive of materials related to pioneering female explorer, writer and Royal Geographical Society member Violet Olivia Cressy-Marcks, née Rutley, later Fisher (1895-1970), largely collected by her brother Lieutenant Commander Reginald Vincent Rutley (1910-1962), and thence by descent.


Cressy-Marcks (as she was generally known, even after her second marriage) was from an wealthy British family, and caught the travel bug after leaving school early to drive lorries in Italy during the Great War. With support from her mother (to whom her first book is dedicated), by the time she was twenty she had made extensive self-funded expeditions from Alaska to Java, through Tibet and Kashmir and beyond. In 1922 she was elected as a member of the RGS. She would go on to travel "overland from Cairo to the cape in 1925, and Albania and the Balkans (1927-8), and spent the winter north of the Arctic circle travelling by sledge from [Sapmi] to Baluchistan (1928-9). Eventually credited with travelling in every country of the world, she was keen to have a scientific grounding to her travels, and was a fellow of the Royal Asiatic and Zoological Societies" (ODNB). 


Present in this collection are a group of postcards sent to her eldest son William Cressy-Marcks (1922-1945) as she travelled through Eastern Europe and the Balkans, with descriptions of her travels and instructions to save them for an album. She also sent a fine group of photographs from her trip to Egypt, Syria and the Near East, including scenes from her archaeological work. The captions appear to be by her second husband, Francis Fisher, who was likely the photographer. One image, annotated in Cressy-Marcks's hand, is addressed to her son and shows her meeting the Commandant of Alexandria. Lieutenant William Roy Cressy-Marcks would tragically die at age twenty-three whilst stationed in the Far East during WWII. Present in this collection is a printed card from Mr. Francis Fisher acknowledging condolences for William, and stating that his wife was still abroad. At the time, she was stationed in China working as a war correspondent. 


Her Arctic journey in 1928-29 was a nine-month expedition from Finland to Baluchistan, travelling through the Sápmi region (then referred to as Lapland) by reindeer sleigh. The lecture programmes and press clipping attest to the intrepid nature of this adventure, with Cressy-Marcks travelling mostly alone, except for the assistance of local guides. She describes being chased by wolves at the Russian border, and indeed earned the nickname "The Lone Wolf" for her solitary predilections. By contrast, when she returned to British society, she was scrutinised in the press for everything from her hairstyle to her unusual choice of children's names (her second and third sons were called Ocean and Forest). The lecture programmes include images of her both in explorer's garb and evening wear, highlighting this duality. 


Between 1929-1930 she made a significant survey of the north-west Amazon basin, which resulted in her first published book Up the Amazon and Over the Andes (1932). There are two specially bound copies of this book in the collection, including one inscribed to her brother. The typed letter dated 1932 mentions that she had "several special editions done for Christmas presents this year", which would imply that this thick paper issue was likely only produced in a very limited number. There are also lecture programmes relating to this expedition, which again revel in the salacious, and racialised, tone in which her dangerous exploits were reported: "She was the only white person in tropical jungles, masked against poisonous insects and vampire bats, camping with primitive and savage Indians, and navigating in canoes, with enormous difficulty, the rivers infested with man-eating fish."


She drove through Ethiopia in the 1930s, where she documented the frontline of the Italian invasion with cine camera. Whilst there she befriended Emperor Haile Selassie who later visited her at her home in Herefordshire. She drove Red Cross ambulances during the Second World War, and served as a war correspondent in the Far East, and later at the Nuremberg Trials. 


The Christmas cards show scenes from her travels, including China, Ethiopia, Tibet, India, and the Fishers's Herefordshire home Hazelwood. Aside from the odd note apologising for lateness, most of these cards are unsigned, perhaps owing to Cressy-Marcks's prolonged absences throughout the year. 


As well as writing, photography, cinematography and archaeology, Cressy-Marcks was a keen collector of artefacts. A brochure in the collection which was printed to accompany an exhibition in aid of the Conservative Bazaar, details her extensive holdings in surveying and meteorological instruments, Eastern furniture, embroidery and ethnographic objects. 


In spite of her extensive travels, Cressy-Marcks only published two books. Her own copy with ownership inscription of the second of these, Journey into China (1940), is present in this collection. It details the period she spend in the late 1930s travelling "from Mandela to Peking (Beijing) over land and ... from Turkey to Tibet by motor" (ibid). During this trip she interviewed Chairman Mao at the Communist headquarters. 


A formidable but unassuming adventurer, Cressy-Marcks was able to gain fairly unprecedented access to politically sensitive locations. A stipulation in her will requested that a copy of her biography be delivered to the head of MI5 'for his appreciation', and many have extrapolated from this that the Secret Service may have followed, if not funded, some of her more daring exploits. 

Stock Code: 251517

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