"TO BLEND AMUSEMENT WITH INSTRUCTION": THE COMIC HISTORIES OF ENGLAND AND ROME, RICHLY ILLUSTRATED, INCLUDING 30 HAND-COLORED PLATES BY JOHN LEECH
A'BECKETT, Gilbert A. The Comic History of England. WITH: The Comic History of Rome. London: Bradbury, Agnew, circa 1881. Quarto, early 20th-century three-quarter green morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. $1600.
Early editions of these irreverent recountings of British and Roman histories, illustrated with hundreds of in-text woodcuts and 30 hand-colored etchings by famous satirical artist John Leech, handsomely bound by Stikeman.
"The first point to be made about Victorian laughter is simply that there was so much of it" (Donald J. Gray)—a truth borne out by these mirthful and much-illustrated volumes, which aim, as the Preface states, "to blend amusement with instruction by serving up, in as palatable a shape as [the author] could, the facts of English [and, later, Roman] history." "One of the wittiest writers of the day" (Allibone, 152), writer Becket worked with illustrator Leech on the staff of the poplar and influential humor magazine Punch. Leech's "humor is as keen, his sense of fun as marked [as George Cruikshank's]… [Leech's pictures] are of the most graphic and mirth-producing kind, and yet the raillery is invariably good-humored" (DNB). Each volume illustrated with numerous in-text wooducts and 10 full-page hand-colored plates, after etchings by Leech, satirizing historical events. Comic History of England first published 1847-48; Comic History of Rome, 1851.
Text and plates clean. A bit of rubbing to extremities, spines uniformly toned. A near-fine, handsomely bound copy.