Comus.London: Essex House Press, 1901 Stock Code: 137091
One of 150 copies on vellum and hand illuminatedFirst Essex House edition, number 82 of 150 copies printed on vellum and hand illuminated. In 1634 Milton was asked to compose the text of a masque "which was to be mounted in Ludlow in honour of the inauguration of John Egerton, earl of Bridgewater, as lord president of Wales. In 1637 or early in 1638 Lawes published Milton's text (without any indication of its authorship) as A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle, and Milton reprinted it in his Poems of 1645. Since the late seventeenth century the masque has been known as Comus" (ODNB). It is presented here as the eighth work in the Essex House Press Great Poems Series. The Essex House Press was founded by Charles Robert Ashbee and Laurence Hodson following the closure of William Morris's Kelmscott Press in 1897 and "came from the heart of the arts and crafts movement" (Franklin, p. 64). Ashbee bought the Kelmscott Press's Albion printing presses after William Morris's death, and employed one of the Kelmscott compositors, Thomas Binning. In 1902 "a bindery was established in the Guild, under the direction of Annie Power, who had been a student of Douglas Cockerell" (Crawford, p. 400). For this work Florence Kingsford Cockerell (1871-1949), one of the leading book illuminators of the English Arts and Crafts Movement provided the illuminated letters. Kingsford Cockerell studied calligraphy under Edward Johnston and predominantly worked for the Ashendene Press.
This copy is from the library of Cyril Flower, first Baron of Battersea, with his bookplate to the front pastedown. Flower was involved with the Pre-Raphaelite set, most closely with Edward Burne-Jones, and was great collector and patron of the arts.
Duodecimo. Original stiff vellum, spine lettered in gilt, "Soul is Form" rose motif stamped in blind to front cover, edges untrimmed.
Hand-coloured frontispiece woodcut by Reginald Savage, illuminated letters in gilt and red by Florence Kingsford Cockerell, with tissue guards.
Gift inscription in ink to foot of front pastedown, now smudged and only partially legible, "To Miss [?] from Langford Cathedral in gratitude for the sure touch of [?] in making books for the authors". Artist's name corrected in white and red to colophon as always. Pale soiling to vellum, front cover just lifting; a near-fine copy.
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