1900 · London, New York, and Bombay
Very pretty dark green morocco, covers with a gilt tree design, the "trunk" formed of four gilt rules from which many branches emanate, terminating in the top third of the board in uniform leafy fronds topped with a heart motif, several gold bezants, neatly rebacked by a professional hand (preserving the original backstrip), raised bands, spine compartments mimicking the design of the covers, two compartments with gilt lettering, wide turn-ins with gilt floral cornerpieces, top edge gilt. With a very small circular photograph of a woman (as though cut for a locket) laid in. Top edges slightly rubbed, spine mellowed to brown, lower cover with a barely visible smudge of residue (a bit of glue?), hinge just separating before final leaf (but the binding solid); a couple signatures with a tiny tear in upper margin, one opening with offsetting in gutter from photograph, and endpapers with offsetting from turn-ins, one or two other negligible blemishes, but these issues all very minor, and on the whole a very clean and fresh copy in a handsome and well-designed binding.
Offered here in an attractive Arts & Crafts style binding, this collection of poems evoking Medieval legends and history was William Morris' first significant publication, originally issued in 1858 when the author was just 24 years old. Morris (1824-96) first became enamored with all things Medieval while a student at Oxford, and he and his Pre-Raphaelite friends Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (to whom the present work is dedicated) frequently looked to Arthurian legends as inspiration for their artistic endeavors. In their book "Camelot in the 19th Century," Laura and Robert Lambdin say that in this work, Morris "brought his poetical characters thoroughly to life through his imagination, his familiarity with the ideas of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and other Pre-Raphaelites, his wide reading of poetry, and his acute understanding of Medievalism." Though unsigned, the binding is most attractive, appropriate for the contents, and features a tasteful design that, if not executed by a professional, was certainly the work of a very talented amateur.. (Inventory #: ST15675)