Irish Fairy Tales; Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

"Mr. Rackham Breaks New Ground in the Illustration of Irish Literature…"
One of 520 Signed Copies
Bound by Bayntun-Riviere, Finished by Christopher Lewis

[RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator]. STEPHENS, James. Irish Fairy Tales. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. London: Macmillan & Co., 1920.

Deluxe Edition. Limited to 520 copies, signed by the artist. Large quarto (10 1/4 x 8 3/8 in; 260 x 211 mm). [2, blank], [2, limitation leaf], x, 318, [2, blank] pp. Sixteen color plates (including frontispiece) mounted on cream paper, with descriptive tissue guards, and twenty-one drawings in black and white.

Bound by Bayntun-Riviere c. 1960s, and finished by Christopher Lewis in full emerald green morocco with a seven gilt fillet Greek frame enclosing a varicolored morocco pictorial onlay reproducing the Rackham illustration opposite page 190, "The thumping of his big boots grew..." Framne reiterated to lower board without pictorial onlay. Gilt framed and ornamented compartments. All edges gilt. Broad, gilt-ruled and ornamented turn-ins. Gilt-rolled edges. Small portion of upper hinge expertly and almost invisibly repaired, otherwise a near fine copy. Housed in the original fleece-lined green cloth slipcase.

The great Christopher Lewis began his career at the internationally renowned Bayntun-Riviere Bindery of Bath, England, during the early 1960s as a finisher. In the 1970s, he established his own bindery and further developed his masterful inlay and gilt work, integrating innovative highlights with paint into his pictorial inlays, as here.

"Rackham's books for the English market in the early post-war years included Flora Annie Steel's English Fairy Tales Retold (1918)… and his friend James Stephen's collection of Irish Fairy Tales… In the latter book, Rackham broke new ground in the illustration of Irish literature. He had been persuaded to tackle Stephens's stories by Walter Starkie, who had vowed to give his uncle 'no peace' until he had agreed to illustrate them. In writing the stories, Stephens had attempted to create an Irish equivalent of The Arabian Nights, his own poetic retelling of the stories which existed in the oral tradition and in Gaelic texts, but which had not appeared accessibly in print. Rackham rose to the occasion, and his nephew's haunting of him was justified. The Dublin Independent was particularly warm in welcoming the collection, remarking: 'We read English tales with appreciation because pictures have familiarised us with English imagery. A Fenian tale lacks imagery because we have no art to give it colour and shape to what are presently only names. Some of Mr. Rackham's pictures are pure poems - they set you dreaming." (Hamilton, p. 128).

"Rackham's two great books of the twenties were James Stephens' Irish Fairy Tales of 1920 and Shakespeare's Tempest of 1926... Beyond the softness of style and inventiveness, the most striking thing about the colour plates for Irish Fairy Tales is the felicitous and appropriate use of celtic borders" (Gettings, p. 143).

Latimore and Haskell, p. 52. Riall, p. 138. Gettings, p.179. Hamilton, p. 185. Item #02175

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