(BROWNE, Sir Thomas) WILKIN, Simon (ed.)
Sir Thomas Browne’s Works, including his Life and Correspondence.
First edition. The “twelve years’ labour of love … of a Norwich bookseller of gentle blood and good education” (Saintsbury, A History of Elizabethan Literature, p. 338), Wilkin’s Browne was described by Southey as “the best edited book in the English language”. Wilkin’s meticulous collation of manuscripts and early editions, and exhaustive research into Browne’s vast correspondence in the British Museum and Bodleian, led Geoffrey Keynes, who was editing the new edition of the works (published 1964) to consider him “the ideal editor for Browne”. Far from common, and this – in the words of an earlier bookseller’s description, loosely inserted – a “choice set”.
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4 volumes octavo (216 138 mm) Handsome late nineteenth-century olive green crushed morocco by Roger de Coverley – stamp verso of front free endpapers – title gilt direct to spines, bands with single gilt rule, compartments simply panelled with single rules top and bottom and double rules at the sides, stylised acorn lozenge centre-tool, boards with triple fillet panel the outer gilt the inner two, thick and thin, in blind, gilt fleuron corner-pieces, single fillet edge roll, top edges gilt, the others uncut, double fillet roll to the turn-ins, marbled endpapers Engraved portrait frontispiece to volume I, folding facsimile document in volume II, Browne’s monument as frontispiece to volume III, and a plan of the “green yard” of Norwich Cathedral to volume IV, 4 illustrations to the text. Half-titles bound in. Spines perhaps a touch tanned, very light shelf-wear, occasional spotting and some marginal browning but overall, armorial bookplate, motto “ego vehemens sum”, name obliterated to the front pastedowns, a very good set in an attractively restrained binding.