“ONCE UPON A TIME…”: HANDSOMELY BOUND FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF GRIMMS’ FAIRY TALES, THE MOST POPULAR COLLECTION OF TALES EVER PUBLISHED, ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE CRUIKSHANK, WITH AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY HIM
GRIMM, Jacob and Wilhelm. German Popular Stories, Translated from the Kinder und Haus Marchen, Collected by M.M. Grimm, from Oral Tradition. London: C. Baldwyn (Richard Taylor), 1823; James Robins (Taylor), 1826. Two volumes. 12mo, early 20th century full brown morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. Housed in custom chemises and half morocco slipcase.
First editions in English (first issue of Volume I; first printing of Volume II) of Grimms’ famous fairy tales, including “Snow White,” “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty,” illustrated with two engraved title pages and 20 full-page etchings by George Cruikshank (”perhaps his best work”), with an autograph letter signed by the illustrator, beautifully bound in full morocco-gilt by Bartlett.
As early as 1805, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm began collecting German popular tales. They published the first and second volumes of Kinder- und Hausmärchen in 1812 and 1814. Its publication brought immediate and worldwide fame to the brothers Grimm and provided the foundation for their influential and groundbreaking studies in German philology and grammar (See PMM 281). “Their great insight and artistry in editing and refining the material made the tales second only to the Bible in German readership” (Zipes, 208). The 1823 edition in English of German Popular Stories was the “first anywhere to be fully illustrated” as well as the first to truly target children (Darton, 216). Moreover, the English translation by Edgar Taylor (and his relatives) “revolutionized the conventional English attitude to fairy tales and rehabilitated fantasy as generally acceptable reading-matter for the young… The Cruikshank illustrations, which the Grimms themselves admired, remain inextricably associated with the tales” and are considered among his best works (Carpenter & Prichard, 230). They have been called “the first real, kindly agreeable, and infinitely amusing and charming illustrations for a child’s book in England” (Charles Welsh). “If you ever happen to meet with the two volumes of Grimm’s German Stories,” John Ruskin once advised, “which were illustrated by Cruikshank long ago, pounce on them instantly; the etchings in them are the finest things, next to Rembrandt’s, that, as far as I know, have been done since etching was invented.” Among other famous Grimm tales, these volumes contain “Rumpel-Stilts-Kin,” “Snow-Drop” (Snow White), “Rose-Bud” (Sleeping Beauty), “Tom Thumb,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “The Golden Goose,” “The Frog-Prince” and “Ashputtel” (Cinderella). First state of the engraved title page of Volume I, without the umlaut in the word Märchen (“later issues of the first edition of Volume I had the umlauts inserted”— Quayle, 38). Plates printed in brown, as often found. Volume I with half title tipped in; with engraved vignette title page and advertisements. Volume II bound with half title but without original first blank or advertisements. Cohn 369. Les Livres de l’Enfance 2835. Morgan Library 122. Ray 112. See Osborne, 599. Cruikshank’s autograph letter to journalist and literary scholar Henry Morley, Jr. reads, in full: “48 Mornington Place, Jan. 16th, 1855. Sir: The account which you have sent into me of £17.12.s. as due to Mr. Hogarth is I presume for certain copies of Finden’s Gallery of Art. Mr. Hogarth selected me to become a subscriber to that work and I agreed to do this, provided he gave me some professional employment and deducted the amount of the subscriptions from my account against him. This I beg to observe was the arrangement between us — clearly & distinctly understood — and presumably assented to, and as Mr. Hogarth has failed to give me such professional employment I return all the copies of the work, in the same state in which I received them. I am, sir, your ob’t. [servant], George Cruikshank. PS. The bearer will leave, with the note, eight parts, and the other eight will be delivered in the course of the day.” Old dealer description laid in.
Occasional light foxing. A desirable landmark in illustrated children’s literature, handsomely bound and in fine condition, with autograph letter signed by Cruikshank.