"AND THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF FAIRIES": PETER PAN IN KENSINGTON GARDENS, ILLUSTRATED BY ARTHUR RACKHAM, A SUPERB PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED WITH A QUOTE FROM THE BOOK BY J.M. BARRIE, SUMPTUOUSLY BOUND BY SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE
BARRIE, J.M. (RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator). Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1906. Quarto, early 20th-century full brown morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine and covers, raised bands, all edges gilt; original cloth covers and spine bound in at rear. $15,000.
First trade edition of the Arthur Rackham-illustrated Peter Pan, with 50 mounted color illustrations. A superb presentation copy, inscribed on the half title by J.M. Barrie with a quote from the book: "When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. J.M. Barrie." Splendidly bound in full exhibition morocco-gilt in the Arts & Crafts style by Sangorski & Sutcliffe with the original cloth bound in at the rear.
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. Ray, The Illustrator and the Book in England 329.
Some foxing to half title, not affecting legibility of inscription, and not affecting text or plates at all. A superb inscribed copy of Barrie's classic, splendidly illustrated and beautifully bound.