"TO PAULINE PAN, A GREAT PETER": THE HIGHLY PRIZED PETER PAN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS, ILLUSTRATED AND SIGNED BY ARTHUR RACKHAM, A SUPERB PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION COPY INSCRIBED BY J.M. BARRIE TO PAULINE CHASE, WHO PLAYED PETER PAN IN THE PLAY'S ORIGINAL LONDON PRODUCTION
(RACKHAM, Arthur) BARRIE, J.M. Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1906. Quarto, early half vellum gilt over light grey boards, brown morocco spine label, top edge gilt, uncut. Housed in a custom chemise and clamshell box. $26,000.
Signed limited first separate edition, number 128 of only 500 copies signed by Rackham, with 50 mounted color illustrations. A superb association copy, inscribed on the illustrated original endpaper by J.M. Barrie to Pauline Chase, who played Peter Pan in the original London production of the play, "To Pauline Pan, a great Peter, from a grateful JMB."
Peter Pan wasn't always the boy from Never Land who lost his shadow and fought Captain Hook. The character's first name "came from Peter Llewelyn Davies, who when still a baby became the subject of stories told by Barrie to [Peter's older brothers]. According to these stories Peter, like all babies, had once been a bird and could still fly out of his nursery window and back to Kensington Gardens, because his mother had forgotten to weigh him at birth. From these stories came the 'Peter Pan' chapters in The Little White Bird [published 1902], afterwards re-issued with Arthur Rackham illustrations as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" (Carpenter, 177). "The 50 color plates were unanimously praised by all who saw them. One critic wrote: 'Mr. Rackham seems to have dropped out of some cloud in Mr. Barrie's fairyland, sent by special providence to make pictures in tune with his whimsical genius" (Dalby, 76-77). The book-with which the "gift book" genre originated (Eyre, 41)-established Rackham's worldwide reputation and remains "his acknowledged masterpiece… [Barrie praised] Rackham's rendering of the fairy world… but the book has much more to offer. The glimpses he provides of stylized London reality effectively set off the fairy life that exists in unsuspected conjunction with it, and he captures the loveliness of the Gardens themselves with masterly skill" (Ray, 204, 206 [catalogue number 329]). "A much-sought-after volume" (Quayle, Early Children's Books, 87). Mounted plates bound together at the end of the text rather than throughout as suggested by plate list, as often. Latimore & Haskell, 27. Riall, 74. This copy is inscribed by Barrie to actress Pauline Chase. When the play premiered in London in 1904, Chase played one of the Lost Boys; she graduated to the role of Peter Pan in 1906, having been chosen for the part by Barrie himself, along with producer Charles Frohman. After Peter Pan, Chase retired from the stage in 1913, making only one appearance after that, in the silent film The Real Thing at Last, which was also written by Barrie.
Plates fine, text with just a bit of occasional faint foxing; binding lovely.