Title : Messalina
Author : Vivian Crockett
Cover art : Robert Maguire
[N. Y. : Berkley Books, 1959. Berkley Diamond #D2012, 2nd Printing, October 1959. Robert Maguire, illustrator. “Complete and unabridged.” First published, London, Jonathan Cape, 1924.]
Ancient Rome’s ultimate wicked witch certainly doesn’t lack for fictional depictions. Berkley D-2012 is a sizzling entry in the Messalina sweepstakes by an author with the unlikely name of Vivian Crockett, with Robert Maguire’s front cover art displaying comparative restraint compared to other versions. By the way, what’s with the gesture? You may kiss my hand & leave?
“There is no story. There is no plot, no sequence of events, no development of character and no clash of wills.... the contents of the book must amaze any trained classicist." -- Edward Lucas White, The Nation, 1924.
“Messalina looks to me like the kind of book that is supposed to give old men a glittering eye, and which wears, as protection, the cloak of history.” Review (anon.) of original hardcover edition, Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec. 20, 1924, p. 12.