London: Ellis & White, 1875. Item #04407
But, knowing now that they would have her speak,
She threw her wet hair backward from her brow,
Her hand close to her mouth touching her cheek… (William Morris)
The Defence of Guenevere in A Superb 1920s Inlaid Binding by Henry T. Wood
WOOD, Henry T, binder. MORRIS, William. The Defence of Guenevere, and Other Poems. (Reprinted without alteration from the edition of 1858.) London: Ellis & White, 1875.
Octavo (8 5/8 x 5 3/8 inches; 219 x 137 mm.). viii, 248 pp.
Bound ca. 1920 by Wood of London (stamp-signed in gilt on front turn-in). Full brown crushed levant morocco, front cover decoratively bordered in gilt surrounding a wide inlaid frame of tan morocco elaborately inlaid with red, blue and green flowers and decorated in gilt and blind. Rear cover with similar black and gilt border. Spine with five raised bands, decoratively tooled and inlaid in the same style as the front cover. Lettered in gilt in compartments, gilt ruled board-edges, wide turn-ins with similar inlaid floral designs, cream watered silk liners and end-leaves, top edge gilt. A superb example in absolutely fine condition, with the original printed paper label bound in at end. Housed in the original? half brown morocco pull-off case. Spine with five raised bands, lettered in gilt in compartments.
This 1875 edition was directly reprinted from the first edition of 1858 published by Bell & Daldy. "First edition of one of Morris's earliest books, printed at the Chiswick Press… (John J. Walsdorf. William Morris in Private Press and Limited Editions. p. 450).
The bookbinding firm of Henry T. Wood of London was established in 1875 and although not as well known as Sangorski & Sutcliffe or Zaehnsdorf, they executed a number of spectacular bindings. In the twentieth century, Thomas Harrison and W. Topping were partners in the firm, and under their stewardship Wood of London apparently executed more progressive designs than other major firms from this time; Thomas Harrison (1877-1955) was a bookbinders’ bookbinder. In 1939 the company merged with Sangorski & Sutcliffe.
"Mr. Wood was also with Zaehnsdorf [along with Roger De Coverly], working for him as a finisher for twelve years. He subsequently managed and in the end bought the business of Mr. Kaufman in Soho, which he has greatly expanded. Neither he nor de Coverly have ever sought the heavy expenses and responsibilities of a large undertaking, but have been content with a personal business in which they themselves have always taken an active part" (Prideaux, Modern Bookbinding, p. 18-19).
William Morris (1834-1896) was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he played a significant role in propagating the early socialist movement in Britain. During the winter of 1855 William Morris, not yet twenty-one years old, began reading some of his first poems to his under-graduate friends at Oxford. In the course of the next hundred-odd years some of the best critics would delight in the purity of passion, energy, color, and enchantment they discovered in these any poems. William Fredeman would call them "the most Pre-Raphaelite volume of poetry which the movement produced." But on winter evenings in 1855 only a handful of young men at Oxford could testify to the fresh talent unfolding before them. One of them was R.W. Dixon, who intuited the stature of these poems after a single recitation: "[Morris] reached his perfection at once ... and in my judgment, he can scarcely be said to have much exceeded it afterwards in anything that he did. I cannot recollect what took place afterwards, but I expressed my admiration in some way, as we all did.... From that time onward, for a term or two, he came to my rooms almost every day with a new poem" (Mackail I, p. 52). Dixon's response typifies the warmth and admiration that Morris' yet unpublished poetry inspired first among his undergraduate circle, then during 1857 among the Rossetti group in London. In this congenial environment and for those friends Morris wrote all thirty of the poems which he then published in 1858 under the title The Defence of Guenevere, and Other Poems.
John J. Walsdorf. William Morris in Private Press and Limited Editions. p. 450.