The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur,
of his Noble Knights of the Round Table, Their Marvellous Enquests and Adventures the Achieving of the San Greal, and in the End, Le Morte Darthur, with the Dolorous Death and Departing out of This World of Them All. The text as written by Sir Thomas Malory and imprinted by William Caxton at Westminster the Year MCCCCLXXXV and now spelled in modern style. With an introduction by Professor Rhys and embellished with many original designs by Aubrey Beardsley.Westminster, J. M. Dent, 1893-4 Stock Code: 134558
NotesFirst edition, deluxe issue, number 101 of 300 sets printed on large Dutch handmade paper. The classic combination of Aubrey Beardsley's distinctive drawings and the Arthurian legend, and one of the most iconic books of the fin de siècle.
The young Beardsley was a regular at London's antiquarian book shops, where he forged a friendship with shop owner, Frederick Evans who introduced him to the publisher J. M. Dent. Dent was planning a beautifully illustrated version of Malory's Morte D'Arthur, along the lines of some of Morris's Kelmscott Press books, but using a less expensive printing process. Loath to pay the elevated fee William Morris would charge for this commission and impressed by Beardsley's sample piece, "The Achieving of the Sangreal" (used as the frontispiece in this work), Dent was persuaded to employ Aubrey Beardsley with "everything to do for the book".
The work was issued by subscription in 12 parts between June 1893 and November 1894 in an edition of 1,500 copies on standard paper and 300 copies on the present Van Gelder paper. The publishers offered a binding service in vellum upon completion, which many if not most subscribers took advantage of; as a result, copies in the original wrappers are scarce, and those in such nice condition exceptionally so.
2 volumes quarto, in the original 12 parts. Original pictorial blue-grey wrappers, uncut and unopened. Preserved in two slightly worn cloth drop-front boxes with catches and roan backstrips.
Printed in red and black, 2 photogravure frontispieces, plates, illustrations and decorations by Aubrey Beardsley, with directions to binder leaf and note to subscribers leaf tipped in at beginning of part XII.
A fine set, with the wrappers of each volume exceptionally clean and crisp and free from all but the most trivial wear. Internally some plates show oxidisation and corresponding offsetting as usual, but the text exceptionally clean and for the most part, unopened.
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