Kew Gardens. Second edition.
Vanessa Bell’s own copy of the first book she illustrated for the Hogarth Press, with her pencilled ownership signature to the title page. The star sticker on the upper wrapper, which also appears on other volumes from this collection, was likely used to indicate who was to inherit the book. Second edition, published June 1919 in an edition of 500 copies, following the first edition of about 170 copies published the previous month. Kew Gardens was the Woolf’s first great success and the first book that Virginia’s sister Vanessa illustrated. On June 9, 1919 Virginia recorded in her diary that “Nessa & I quarrelled as nearly as we ever do quarrel now over the get up of Kew Gardens, both type and woodcuts; & she firmly refused to illustrate any more stories of mine under those conditions, & went so far as to doubt the value of the Hogarth Press altogether. An ordinary printer would do better in her opinion. This both stung and chilled me. Not that she was bitter or extreme; its her reason and control that give her blame its severity”. Events proved Bell to some extent correct; a glowing review in the Times Literary Supplement on May 29, 1919 led to a flood of orders that the Woolfs could not fulfil on their own, and the second edition was jobbed out to Richard Madley. But the lasting result was a triumph for both Bell and Virginia, as the review described the book as a work of art in whole, making special mention of Bell’s woodcut. “But here is ‘Kew gardens’ – a work of art, made, ‘created’ as we say, finished, four-square; a thing of original and therefore strange beauty, with it’s own ‘atmosphere,’, it’s own vital force… the more one gloats over ‘Kew Gardens’ the more beauty shines out of it… and the more one likes Mrs. Bell’s ‘Kew Gardens’ woodcuts” (Woolmer p. xxiv).
Octavo. Original paper wrappers hand-coloured in blue, dark red and black, white label lettered in black on front cover. Housed in a blue quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery. Woodcut frontispiece and tailpiece by Vanessa Bell. Star sticker to upper wrapper. Wrappers rubbed and frayed, closed tear to cover, contents partially disconnected from upper wrapper, some spotting to edge of lower cover. Contents unopened. A very good copy.
Bibliography: Woolmer 7n, Kirkpatrick A3bDon't understand our descriptions? Try reading our Glossary