SUPERBLY BOUND SET OF THREE SURTEES HUNTING PARODIES IN FIRST EDITION, WITH HAND-COLORED PLATES BY LEECH AND BROWNE
SURTEES, Robert Smith. Handley Cross; or, Mr. Jorrock’s Hunt. WITH: Plain or Ringlets? WITH: Mr. Facey Romford’s Hounds. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1854, 1860, 1865. Three volumes. Octavo, full green crushed morocco, raised bands, elaborately gilt-decorated spines with hunting motifs, top edges gilt. $900.
First single-volume editions in book form of three 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, and handsomely bound by Rivière & Son.
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 three 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. Each of these works appeared first in parts. Handley Cross was first published in book form in 1843 as a triple-decker (this is the first single-volume edition). The other two are firsts in book form. Sparrow, 202. Tooley 473, 475 and 477.
Expert repairs to headcaps of this finely bound and richly illustrated set.