SET OF SIX SURTEES HUNTING PARODIES, WITH HAND-COLORED PLATES BY LEECH AND BROWNE
SURTEES, Robert Smith. Handley Cross; or, Mr. Jorrock’s Hunt. WITH: Hillingdon Hall. WITH: Hawbuck Grange. WITH: Ask Mamma. WITH: Plain or Ringlets? WITH: Mr. Romford’s Hounds. London: Bradbury, Agnew; John C. Nimmo, circa 1880; 1899. Six volumes. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter green morocco, raised bands, gilt-stamped spines with hunting motifs, green linen boards, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. $1900.
Early editions (printed from the original plates) of six vigorous and engaging Surtees comic novels, abounding with sharp social observations, illustrated with hand-colored plates and in-text line cuts by John Leech and Hablôt K. Browne. Handsomely bound by Lauriat of Boston.
Mainstay artist at Punch and illustrator of Dickens’ Christmas Carol (1843), caricaturist John Leech studied with George Cruikshank and eventually developed “a convention of social humor that was to last until the 1920s” (Houfe, 207). Leech’s pictures are of “the most graphic and mirth-producing kind, and yet the raillery is invariably good-humored” (DNB). John Ruskin called his work “admittedly the finest definition and natural history of the classes of our society, the kindest and subtlest analysis of its foibles, the tenderest flattery of its pretty and well-bred ways.” Surtees’ second illustrator Hablôt K. Browne (“Phiz”) was also associated with Dickens— in the illustration of Sunday as It Is by Timothy Sparks (1836), through which Browne first revealed his comic genius. He was then chosen by Dickens to illustrate the Pickwick Papers, whose title character was inspired in part by Mr. Jorrocks of Surtees’ Handley Cross. Lavishly illustrated by Leech and Browne, these six works by Surtees were a great public success. As a creator of comic personalities, he is still appreciated today. Thackeray is said to have envied Surtees powers of observation, and William Morris regarded him as “a master of life,” ranking him with Dickens. Most of these works appeared first in parts. Handley Cross was first published in book form in 1843 as a triple-decker, Hillingdon Hall in 1845, Hawbuck Grange in 1847, Ask Mamma in 1858, Plain or Ringlets? in 1860, and Mr. Romford’s Hounds in 1865. The printing house of Bradbury, Agnew was formed in 1872 from Bradbury and Evans— making these printings early editions, published after that date. Sparrow, 202. See Tooley 472-475, and 477 (Hawbuck Grange not listed); Podeschi (Mellon) 188, 195, 199, 207.
A handsome set in near-fine condition, spines toned to mellow brown.