"THAN ROBINSON JEFFERS, THERE IS NO DEEPER VOICE IN THE CHOIR THAT SINGS ITS (HUMANITY'S) GLORIES AND ITS SHAMES": LIMITED GRABHORN EDITION OF ROBINSON JEFFERS' POEMS, SIGNED BY HIM, WITH A SIGNED PHOTOGRAPHIC FRONTISPIECE BY ANSEL ADAMS, A UNIQUE PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED FROM SAN FRANCISCO ARTS PATRON ALBERT M. BENDER TO "FIRST LADY OF THE THEATRE" KATHARINE CORNELL
JEFFERS, Robinson. Poems. San Francisco: The Book Club of California, 1928. Tall octavo, original green cloth, paper spine label. $2800.
Signed limited first edition, number 271 of only 310 copies printed by the Grabhorn Press and signed by Jeffers, with an original photographic frontispiece portrait by Ansel Adams, signed by Adams in pencil (as issued). A unique presentation copy, inscribed by San Francisco arts patron Albert M. Bender, co-founder of the society that published this work, to actress Katharine Cornell: "To Katharine Cornell, in remembrance of her gracious visit to the Studio Building, with best wishes of her host, Albert M. Bender. 1930. Than Robinson Jeffers there is no deeper voice in the choir that sings its (humanity's) glories and its shames. Let him not weary of the singing, for humanity is life at its highest, blind in many ways, yet conscious of the suns that are to it but candles 'in houses of death and at birth.'"
"Robinson Jeffers made a huge impression on [Adams] from the time they first met, in 1926. With his wife, Una, Jeffers lived in Carmel, at the edge of the Pacific, in the medieval isolation of Tor House, a fortresslike compound he had built himself, stone by stone, complete with a forbidding tower. The writer, his home, its setting, and his poetry were all similarly pared down, austere, without extras. Jeffers needed a likeness of himself for his next book. Inexperienced in the area of portraiture, Ansel photographed him using intense side lighting with a wide-open shutter that provided no depth of field. The result was a soft, gauzy image… he chose Ansel's portrait for the frontispiece of the collection" (Alinder, 67-68). The printer of this handsome limited edition was the Grabhorn Press, founded in 1915 in Indianapolis by Edwin Grabhorn under the name of the Studio Press. Four years later the press moved to San Francisco, where it took the name of its founder— the original personnel numbering four Grabhorns (Edwin, Robert, Jane and Mary) and Sherwood Grover. After an illustrious career, capturing numerous honors from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Press closed in 1965. The initial letters were cut by Valenti Angelo. Without original slipcase. This interesting presentation copy is inscribed from Albert M. Bender to Katharine Cornell. Bender was a well-known San Francisco patron of the arts until his death in 1966. Bender was also an enthusiastic and accomplished rare book collector who helped to found the Book Club of California, the publisher of this signed limited edition. Bender also delved into art, happily donating millions of dollars worth of work by California artists to California museums. He was also a leading collector in Asian art and gave 260 piece to the National Museum of Ireland—Bender was born in Ireland—in recognition of his late mother. Perhaps most notable, however, was Bender's work as a patron to artists, many of whom, such as Diego Rivera, financing the publication of Adams's first portfolio (Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, 1927) and his first book (Taos Pueblo, 1930). It is appropriate then that Bender owned this signed limited edition published by the group he co-founded, Book Club of California, with a frontispiece signed by Adams. Interestingly, this copy also has an original photograph of Bender and poet Robinson Jeffers together affixed to the front pastedown. In addition to being a close friend of Jeffers, Bender was a great admirer of Jeffers' work and collected it. In fact, "The Jeffers Collection at Occidental College was formally established in 1937 by President Remsen Bird with a donation of books, manuscripts, photographs, and memorabilia from Jeffers collector and scholar, Albert M. Bender" (Occidental College Library). This copy is inscribed to Katharine Cornell, known as the "First Lady of the Theatre." An actress, producer, and theater owner, "Cornell belonged to that shrinking group of stars who eschewed Hollywood's enticements to remain on the stage. (She made only the briefest foray into the movies, a vignette from Romeo and Juliet for the wartime film Stage Door Canteen.) A commitment to live theater and to a thoroughly professional approach to her craft marked her career… Cornell was loved not only by her public, but by others in the theater. Considerate of her cast, modest in self-estimation, and lacking affectation, she stands alongside Ethel Barrymore, Helen Hayes, and Lynn Fontanne as one of the first women of the 20th-century American stage" (ANB). Cornell once played Antigone in a play adapted from Sophocles by Robinson Jeffers.
Interior generally fine, toning to spine. A near-fine copy with a fascinating provenance.