Arabian Nights, The
London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1924. Item #02533
Of Detmold's Rarest Book
[DETMOLD, Edward J., illustrator]. The Arabian Nights. Tales from the Thousand and One Nights. Illustrated by E.J. Detmold. London: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d. .
Edition Deluxe, limited to 100 copies only, here bound without the signed limitation leaf. Quarto (11 x 8 1/4 in; 280 x 211 mm). viii, 240 pp. Twelve tipped-in color plates.
Publisher's full pictorially gilt vellum. Very light stain on front board, spine gilt a little rubbed, some very light foxing to endpapers but still an excellent copy of Detmold's rarest book.
Some deluxe copies were bound, as here, without the signed limitation leaf, the result, apparently, of the publisher printing more than 100 copies and deluxe binding the extra sheets.
Detmold illustrated “a number of books of fantasy drawing… which show a vivid imagination, fine drawing and warm coloring” (Houfe, 115)
“The Detmold twins were a unique phenomenon in British art, recognized by their contemporaries as a single creative personality ‘divided between two bodies’. Their remarkable etchings and watercolours of plants and animals, minutely detailed in the Japanese manner, are all prized collector’s items. Charles Frederick and Edward Barton Detmold were born in Putney, south London, on 21 November 1883. Their middle names were later replaced by ‘Maurice’ and ‘Julius’, but the two boys were generally called Maurice and Edward…At the age of 5 the twins developed a dual passion for drawing and observing animals, and made regular sketching expeditions to Regent’s Park Zoo and the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, where they drew detailed sketches of shells, crayfish, monkey skulls, and hundreds of other animal subjects. Their first book, Pictures from Birdland, comprising 24 colour plates, was published by J.M. Dent for the Christmas market in 1899. The Detmolds’ most celebrated joint achievement, and among the finest book illustrations ever produced, was the set of 16 watercolours depicting scenes from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Macmillan first issued these in November 1903…Maurice suddenly committed suicide in April 1908.
"Edward was devastated…[but] was determined to carry on with all the various ideas and projects they had originally planned in unison. He joined the ranks of Hodder & Stoughton’s immortal band of gift book illustrators…with the superb 1909 edition of Aesop’s Fables…For George Allen, Detmold illustrated Lemonnier’s Birds and Beasts (1911), and two de luxe volumes by the Nobel prizewinner Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee (1911) and Hours of Gladness (1912). He returned to Hodder & Stoughton with another popular animal series for children: The Book of Baby Birds (1912), The Book of Baby Pets (1913), The Book of Baby Dogs (1914), and Our Little Neighbours (1921). His final two opulent gift books for Hodder & Stoughton were Fabre’s Book of Insects (1921), with 12 remarkable colour studies of the beautiful and bizarre denizens of the insect world a seen through Detmold’s ‘microscope’ eye; and The Arabian Nights (1924), a very successful change of direction into the realms of exotic fantasy. On the strength of The Arabian Nights, Detmold could have become one of the greatest illustrators of fantasy and fairy stories…During the 1920s Detmold continued to draw, paint, and hold exhibitions of etchings and drypoints, but it was not long before he retired completely from public life…On 1 July 1957 he committed suicide, nearly half a century after the death of his twin brother” (Richard Dalby, The Golden Age of Children’s Book Illustration, pp. 96-98).