Le Morte Darthur

The Birth, Life and Acts of King Arthur, of the 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 Dolourous Death and Departing Out of This World of Them All.

BEARDSLEY, Aubrey / MALORY, Sir Thomas

IN ORIGINAL PARTS

BEARDSLEY, Aubrey Le Morte Darthur The Birth, Life and Acts of King Arthur, of the 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 Dolourous Death and Departing Out of This World of Them All.

Dent, London, 1893.

First edition. Twelve original parts, each in original green paper wrappers with design by Beardsley in brown to the upper covers. Housed in publisher's black cloth boxes blocked in gilt to spine and upper covers to match the blocking for the books. Two photogravure frontispieces and eighteen full page wood engravings (including five double-page), numerous text illustrations, and approximately 350 designs for chapter headings and borders, all by Aubrey Beardsley. A near fine set with trivial wear to some of the oversized parts of the wrappers and a little light chipping to the paper at the head of the spine on part III, but is an exceptionally well preserved set, seldom encountered in its original wrappers.

The classic combination of Aubrey Beardsley's distinctive drawings and the Arthurian legend. One of the most iconic books of the fin de si├Ęcle.
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 twelve parts between June 1893 and November 1894 in an edition of 1500 copies, with an additional 300 copies on Van Gelder paper. On completion of the serialisation, subscribers were encouraged to have the work bound by the publishers "in a specially designed case for binding at 3s per volume" (publisher's notice tipped in to the final volume of this set). Unsold sets of the serialisation were bound by the publishers and sold in book form at two guineas.
The anecdotal evidence of copies seen in the publisher's binding (not infrequently) and those in original wrappers (seldom), would suggest that the vast majority of copies were either bound up or have since perished. Certainly the surviving parts sets usually show significant damage to the wrappers. This set owes its remarkable survival to the publisher's boxes, seemingly commissioned, probably around 1909, by an early owner, one J Pollet, who has laid a note in stating, "The only Case made + stamped with the gold design of the original issue in 2 volumes 1893".

Stock ID: 39586

£8,500.00

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