Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. (From ‘The Little White Bird’).
First edition, out-of-series from the deluxe signed limited edition of 500 copies, a special copy for presentation from the artist to the author, with an original watercolour drawing by Rackham (a little white bird jumping out of an egg atop a nest of twigs, signed “To J.M.B. from AR”) mounted on a blank bound in place of the usual half-title leaf, with the author’s inscription re-presenting the book to his younger sister “Maggie with love from J.M.B.” Barrie acknowledged the original gift of this book in a letter to Rackham dated 18 December 1906: “My dear Rackham, It was immensely good of you to put that delicious little picture in my copy of ‘Peter’ … I am always your debtor … please, I hope you will shed glory on more of my things …” (Derek Hudson, Arthur Rackham, p. 64). A superb association, humorously illustrating the genesis of this important collaboration between the two men. Rackham had been increasingly in demand for his work in lavishly produced gift books, but his edition of Rip Van Winkle decisively established him as the leading decorative illustrator of the period. His exhibition of the originals at the Leicester Galleries in March 1905, months before the book was published, was a successful innovation and attracted the admiration of J. M. Barrie, then basking in the success of the first production of his famous play Peter Pan the previous Christmas. The owners of the Leicester Galleries organised an initial meeting between the two men in June 1905. It was agreed that Rackham should illustrate not the play (which remained unpublished until 1928) but make a new book from those chapters from The Little White Bird (1902) which had first introduced Peter Pan. Rackham worked steadily on the book for the next year, making many visits to Kensington Gardens, and showed the author the finished pictures in June 1906. By October of that year Barrie had seen specimens of the printed pictures (“which I liked hugely”), though not a dummy book, and in December received this special copy, which in turn he re-presented to his beloved younger sister, his most frequent family visitor in London.
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Quarto. Bound for presentation in original vellum, titles and decoration to front cover and spine gilt, original yellow silk ties, map to front endpaper, top edge gilt, others untrimmed. Housed in a dark blue leather entry slipcase. With 50 mounted colour plates and captioned tissue guards.