New York: The Heritage Illustrated Bookshelf, 1940. Item #03800
The First Trade Edition of The Wind In The Willows with Illustrations by Arthur Rackham
[RACKHAM, Arthur, illustrator]. GRAHAME, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows. Illustrations by Arthur Rackham. Introduction by A.A. Milne. New York: The Heritage Illustrated Bookshelf, .
First trade edition with illustrations by Arthur Rackham. Octavo ( 9 3/16 x 6 inches; 234 x 153 mm.). xiv, 190 pp. Pictorial half-title and title-page. Twelve full page color plates and twelve black & white chapter headings.
Publishers blue cloth, front cover pictorially stamped in gilt, spine lettered in gilt, all edges stained red. Spine very slightly faded otherwise a fine copy in the original slightly soiled color pictorial slip-case.
"The Wind in the Willows was not published in England until 1950, but it found two publishers, one for a de luxe edition (The Limited Editions Club, New York) and one for a trade edition (The Heritage Press, New York) in the United States posthumously in the year following Rackham’s death. The (Heritage Illustrated Bookshelf edition) is a gentle delight, presenting twelve illustrations which in no way fight with the more famous imaginative world created by Shepherd, although if Shepherd had not preceded him, then Rackham might have anthropomorphized his creatures even more. Several of the plates are delightful: the ‘Golden Day (facing p. 32) when the three heroes walked by the Caravan, Mole leading a happy horse’; the (frontispeice) with placid Rat handing a hamper to put into a boat, a plate famous among Rackham lovers because it was the boat for which Rackham forgot to draw the oars, an omission which some see as significant in view of the artist’s imminent death. Perhaps the most interesting picture is the color plate facing p. 113, which depicts the egocentric Toad leveled to the drab clothes of a no-pocket washerwoman, hopping about permissively, totally unequipped for the real contest. In the real world of people, like all egoists, animal or human, he is alien, and it is a typical piece of Rackhamerie that we should see two children laughing at the glum toad, not because he is a toad, but because he is obviously pretending to be something else.