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: 147379
First edition, one of 1,500 ordinary paper copies, of a total edition of 1,800 copies. "In Le Morte d'Arthur Beardsley learnt his job, but the result is no bungling student's work If he had never illustrated another book, this edition of Morte d'Arthur could stand as a monument of decorative book illustration" (Lewis).
In 1892, seeking to emulate the books of the Kelmscott Press, John M. Dent commissioned the 20-year-old Beardsley to produce this edition, work that took the young artist 18 months to complete. The book was issued in 12 parts in wrappers, with the purchaser given the choice of sending it back to Dent, who bound them in vellum or in this cream cloth case-binding with gilt blocking designed by Beardsley, or to a binder of their own.
This copy preserved four front covers of the parts-issue wrappers, two bound in each volume at the end.
2 volumes, quarto. Original cream cloth, spines lettered in gilt, spines and front covers stamped in gilt with floral patterns designed by Beardsley, publisher's device to rear covers in gilt, top edges gilt others untrimmed.
With photogravure frontispieces on India paper, 18 full-page wood engravings with tissue guards (5 double-page), numerous text illustrations and approximately 350 designs for chapter headings and borders (foliate and historiated) all by Aubrey Beardsley.
A hint of wear to tips, spines gently toned, slight spotting to boards, bindings otherwise sound and firm, internally clean and fresh; a very good, bright set.
John Lewis, "The Twentieth Century Book", pp. 148-9.
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