Bohemia in London.
With Illustrations by Fred Taylor.London: Chapman & Hall, Limited, 1907 Stock Code: 143696
First edition, first impression, of which 1,250 copies were printed. Bohemia in London, dedicated to fellow novelist M. P. Shiel, was Ransome's first success, based on the author's own experiences in the capital. Library Hub cites copies at only two British and Irish institutional libraries (BL, Oxford); well represented internationally on Library Hub, decidedly elusive in commerce.
The chapter entitled "A Chelsea Evening" (pp. 49-63) encapsulates one of the famous "at homes" hosted by the artist, illustrator, writer, and occultist Pamela Colman Smith (1878-1951). In this evocative chapter, Ransome describes visiting Smith in the company of an actor named Wilton. When they arrive at Smith's front door it is "flung open...by a little round woman, scarcely more than a girl... She looked as if she had been the same age all her life and would be so to the end". Smith's studio "entertained many writers and artists such as Arthur Ransome, Bram Stoker, John Masefield, Lady Gregory, Florence Farr, and above all W. B. Yeats, who deeply influenced her" (Decker & Dummett, A History of the Occult Tarot, 2013).
The book's illustrator, Fred Thomas (1875-1963), worked primarily as a poster artist, particularly for the train companies and shipping lines, and his work here is very much in the mould of the Beggarstaff Brothers. He "was suggested to Ransome by his poster of a newsboy used to advertise the stationer and bookseller W. H. Smith & Son" (Hammond). His striking contribution helps to make this, in the words of Ransome's biographer Hugh Brogan, "easily the best-looking Ransome volume ever produced" (The Life of Arthur Ransome, 1984, p. 55).
Octavo. Original grey cloth, spine lettered in gilt, front cover lettered in black with vignette stamped in brown and black, top edge gilt, others untrimmed.
With 16 black and white plates printed on grey heavy stock paper, illustrations in the text, by Fred Taylor.
Spine toned and a little cocked, slight rubbing to extremities, browning to outer leaves, initial 3 leaves, first plate, and plate at p. 36 professionally retipped in, contents clean; a very good copy.
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