“THE MOST BRILLIANT CIRCLES OF THE MOST BRILLIANT EPOCH”: FIRST EDITION OF TAYLOR’S LEICESTER SQUARE, 1874, EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED, WITH 56 PLATES AND FOUR FOLDING MAPS, BOUND BY BAYNTUN
TAYLOR, Tom. Leicester Square; Its Associations and Its Worthies. With a Sketch of Hunter's Scientific Character and Works, by Richard Owen. London: Bickers and Son, 1874. Octavo, early 20th-century full blue crushed morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. $950.
First edition of Taylor’s history of London’s Leicester Square and the notables associated with it—including Isaac Newton, members of British royalty, Joshua Reynolds, John Hunter and more—with four folding maps, extra-illustrated with 56 plates, handsomely bound by Bayntun.
British dramatist and journalist Tom Taylor owed much of his fame to his lifelong association with Punch and earned particular notice when, “in 1874, he published an entertaining volume called Leicester Square: its Associations and its Worthies.” Taylor was also a highly regarded 19th-century playwright. “His mastery of stage-craft was great… and in 35 years he supplied more than 70 plays to the principal theatres of London”— including Our American Cousin, a comedy first produced in New York in 1858, and the play Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated (DNB). This beautiful extra-illustrated first edition of Taylor’s Leicester Square contains wonderfully informed coverage of famous figures who lived in or were associated with the area, as well as elegant portraits of Queen Elizabeth, Isaac Newton, Henry VIII, Jonathan Swift, Joshua Reynolds, Hogarth and many others. Also featured are illustrations of key landmarks and four folding pictorial maps of the Square and its environs from the Elizabethan to the Victorian era, along with Richard Owen’s biography of surgeon and anatomist John Hunter, another famous Leicester Square resident. With 56 full-page illustrations and steel-engraved portraits, ornamental initials and head- and tailpieces. Allibone, 2362-3. Colophon page with contemporary marginalia of an English book reviewer and critic.
Text and plates fresh and clean with only small archival repair to a closed tear on gutter edge of one folding map. A highly desirable near-fine copy in rich morocco gilt.