The Fairy Family.
A Series of Ballads & Metrical Tales illustrating the Fairy Mythology of Europe.London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts, 1857 Stock Code: 142951
First edition, in an attractive custom binding in notably bright condition. This work features Edward Burne-Jones's first book illustrations, done while still at Oxford and published anonymously at his own request. This copy appears to have been bound for the liberal politician and medieval scholar Allan Heywood Bright (1862-1941) with his and his brother's bookplates to the front endpapers.
The compiler of this work, Archibald MacLaren, "was a versatile and interesting man with the energetic breadth of interest of his time. As well as being an expert on fairies he was an authority on physical education" including fencing, and had written several works on the subject (MacCarthy, p. 39). It was in this role in which he met Burne-Jones, who had been "recommended to take fencing lessons in the hope of improving his still shaky state of health" (ibid., p. 39). Burne-Jones attended his lessons with William Morris, and despite MacLaren being 12 years their senior the three men developed a close friendship and often dined together at MacLaren's home in Summertown. It was at one of these dinners in 1854 that MacLaren asked Burne-Jones to provide the illustrations for his present collection of fairy poems, for which Burne-Jones made more than 80 designs including full-page illustrations, title pages, borders, vignettes, and decorative capitals. While only three of Burne-Jones's designs were ultimately used MacLaren kept the remaining pen and ink illustrations for his personal collection.
As issued pages 81-97 are missing in pagination, with no loss of text and the signatures continuous.
Octavo (180 x 124 mm). Near-contemporary red zigzag wave cloth, titles and foliate design in gilt to spine, boards blocked in blind with foliate cornerpiece frame, yellow coated endpapers, edges gilt.
Engraved second title page, frontispiece, and illustrated tailpiece at p. 279.
4 pp. publisher's catalogue at end. Spine ever-so-slightly faded, minor bumps to spine ends and tips, cloth faintly soiled, faint offsetting to outer leaves else contents remarkably clean and fresh, a very good and uncommonly nice copy.
Fiona MacCarthy, The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination (2012); Quayle
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