Kew Gardens. Decorated by Vanessa Bell.[London] : The Hogarth Press, 1927 Stock Code: 139242
Signed by both sistersFirst edition fully illustrated by Vanessa Bell, (third overall), signed by Woolf and Bell on the limitation page, and numbered 62 from a limited edition of 500.
It was first published in 1919, and Bell's contribution to the first two editions was a woodcut frontispiece and finispiece only. The unexpected success of this work, Woolf's third published book, was "the most dramatic factor in the Woolfs' becoming significant commercial publishers" (Woolmer p. xxiii). Sales of the first edition were slow until the appearance of a review in the Times Literary Supplement hailing it as "a work of art... a thing of original and therefore strange beauty, with its own 'atmosphere,' its own vital force" (idem p. xxiv). This resulted in a flood of orders that the Woolfs could not fulfil on their own, and they contracted the second edition to professional printer Richard Madley.
Kew Gardens was not simply a vehicle for showcasing Vanessa's artistic talents: alongside Virginia's second published work, The Mark on the Wall (1917), and An Unwritten Novel (1920), Kew Gardens was one of her early shorter fictions which really "were less stories than theoretical expositions of the new form of fiction that she had come upon" (ODNB). Vanessa's contribution was also of great personal importance to Virginia, who saw it as a means of "binding herself to her sister" (Willis p. 31).
Crown quarto. Original pictorial paper-covered boards, titles to spine and front board in brown, three-colour pictorial design by Vanessa Bell to front board, untrimmed, printed on rectos only. With the glassine jacket, and fragments of an additional glassine.
Title page printed in brown, decorative floral frames throughout, all after designs by Bell.
Very light rubbing at extremities and small chip at foot of spine yet still an exceptional copy, in the rare glassine, torn, chipped, and split.
Kirkpatrick A3c; Willis pp. 30-34; Woolmer 155.
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