“NONE HAD A GREATER SENSE OF MYSTERY AND MAGIC THAN RACKHAM”: SIGNED LIMITED FIRST EDITION OF ENGLISH FAIRY TALES, ONE OF ONLY 500 NUMBERED COPIES SIGNED BY ARTHUR RACKHAM
(RACKHAM, Arthur) STEEL, Flora Annie. English Fairy Tales. Illustrated By Arthur Rackham. London: Macmillan, 1918. Quarto, original full vellum gilt, pictorial endpapers, top edge gilt, uncut. Housed in a custom slipcase. $4500.
Signed limited first edition, number 107 of 500 copies signed by Arthur Rackham, with color frontispiece, 15 mounted color plates and 42 black-and-white in-text illustrations by him.
Although better known as an advocate for girls' education rights in India, Flora Annie Steel also wrote several books of fairy tales, stories characterized by both wicked humor and non-traditional outcomes. In these pages, she retells such familiar favorites as "The Story of the Three Bears," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "The Three Little Pigs," "Dick Whittington and His Cat" and "Little Red Riding-Hood." Of all book illustrators in the "Golden Age," "perhaps none had a greater sense of mystery and magic than Arthur Rackham" (Silvey, 547). His 57 illustrations in this volume—by turn elegant, comical and harrowing—earned him his largest commission to date. His illustration for "The Three Bears" also includes a touching homage to his wife Edyth, "a notable portrait painter in her own right": her painting The Grebe Hat hangs on the wall of the bears' cottage (Hamilton, 152). Latimore & Haskell, 48. Riall, 132.
Interior clean and fine, only slight toning to vellum, as often. A near-fine copy.