DOBSON’S THE BALLAD OF BEAU BROCADE, 1892, ILLUSTRATED BY HUGH THOMSON
(THOMSON, Hugh) DOBSON, Austin. The Ballad of Beau Brocade and Other Poems of the VIIIth Century. London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1892. Octavo, early 20th-century three-quarter dark blue morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, top edge gilt, uncut (original cloth cover and spine bound in at rear). $450.
First trade edition of this lively collection of 19th-century verse including the titular poem about a notorious dandy highwayman, with 50 illustrations by Hugh Thomson (31 printed on Japanese vellum), handsomely bound.
Dobson led a movement to introduce French poetic forms into English verse. In 1876 he published the first original ballade written in English, and followed with English versions of the rondel, rondeau and villanelle. This wonderful 1892 collection of English poetry is also inspired by the subjects and forms of the 18th century. The longest (and most famous) poem in the collection, “The Ballad of Beau Brocade,” deals with the exploits of dandy highwayman and latter-day Robin Hood, Beau Brocade, who would later become the subject of Baroness Orczy’s 1907 novel and the 1916 silent film. This edition is illustrated by Hugh Thomson, who “takes first place… among the genteel book illustrators” (Harthan, 238). His “smiling awareness of the unheroic aspect of everyday life; his relish for the counterbalancing bravery of period costumes, coaches and horses, and elegant furniture; and his brisk style give his work irresistible charm” (Hodnett, 218). Preceded by a limited edition of only 450 copies. Booklabel of renowned bibliophile Abel E. Berland.
A fine copy, handsomely bound.