London: Constable & Co., 1914. Item #03022
"The Most Complete and Beautiful Specimen Before Us of an Illustrated Book as a Single Work of Art"
(The Times Literary Supplement)
[ROBINSON, W. Heath, illustrator]. SHAKESPEARE, [William]. Shakespeare’s Comedy of A Midsummer-Night’s Dream. With Illustrations by W. Heath Robinson. London: Constable & Co., 1914.
Edition DeLuxe. 1/250 copies signed by W. Heath Robinson (this copy being #65). Quarto (11 3/8 x 9 inches; 289 x 230 mm.). xii, [iv], 185, , [1, printer’s imprint] pp. Twelve mounted color plates, each with a titled tissue-guard, forty-six full-page and seventeen smaller black and white drawings.
Publishers primary binding of full white vellum over boards. Front cover and spine pictorially stamped in gilt, top edge gilt, others uncut. Vellum very slightly dust soiled, light offsetting onto paste-downs, otherwise a spectacular copy of this very rare book. Housed in a blue cloth slipcase.
Not all of the 250 copies were bound in the primary white vellum:
"A signed limited edition of 250 copies printed on handmade paper of which only 100 were issued in 1914 bound in vellum gilt with a white silk marker… the balance of the signed, limited edition issued (in 1919) in quarter green cloth, green boards, paper label on spine." (Beare, 1983).
"An unspecified number were bound in white vellum covered boards and the remainder with green paper-covered boards and green cloth-covered spine, with a printed label." (Lewis, 1973).
"The streams of fairies and goblins floating across the woodland scenes in Heath Robinson's illustrations to A Midsummer Night's Dream are very much like Dicky Doyle's little figures on the cover of Punch, yet these illustrations are among the most personal and most successful that Heath Robinson ever drew." (Lewis).
"There are several very pretty coloured plates, including one of a tree-lined river bank, with Heath Robinson's inevitable foxgloves in the foreground, a Greek temple across the river and the reclining figures of Hermia and Helena 'Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet', but the black-and-white drawings are the illustrations that add such distinction to this edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream, of which he was so justly proud." (Lewis).
"At the height of his powers as an illustrator... this book was to be his finest achievement. In it he consolidated all that he had learnt during the past eighteen years... Heath Robinson considered [the] book to be his greatest achievement, and when it was published in October 1914 a reviewer [in the Times Literary Supplement, Dec. 10, 1914] described it as: 'The most complete and beautiful specimen before us of an illustrated book as a single work of art'" (W. Heath Robinson The Inventive Comic Genius of Our Age, p. 19).
Geoffrey Beare, The Illustrations of W. Heath Robinson, p. 127
John Lewis, Heath Robinson, p. 216
Langston Day, The Life and Art of W. Heath Robinson, p. 269.