London: Sold by Reeves & Turner
, 1892. Item #04839
With The Scarlet Initials
Superbly Bound at the Time of Publication by Rivière for Hatchards
[KELMSCOTT PRESS]. BLUNT, Wilfrid Scawen. The Love-Lyrics & Songs of Proteus… With The Love-Sonnets of Proteus… now reprinted in their full text with many sonnets omitted from the earlier editions. [London: Sold by Reeves & Turner], 1892.
One of 300 paper copies printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press.
Small quarto (8 x 5 5/8 inches; 203 x 143 mm). [x], 251, [1, blank] pp. Printed in red and black in Golden type. Decorative woodcut borders and initials.
Bound by [Rivière] for Hatchards ca. 1892. Full terracotta straight-grain morocco, covers ruled in gilt and elaborately decorated in an all over geometrical design of fleur-de-lys, smooth spine similarly decorated and lettered in gilt, gilt ruled board edges and turn-ins, top edge gilt, others uncut. With the engraved armorial bookplate of Phyllis Crossley "Those Friends Thou Hast and Their Adoption Tried, Grapple Them to Thy soul with Hoops of Steel" on front paste-down and a neat ink gift inscription on a front blank leaf which reads "Phyllis, New Years' Day 1899".
Joints very slightly rubbed but quite sound. A superb example.
This is the only Kelmscott Press book in which the initials were printed in red, Morris doing so at the request of Blunt who had a prolonged affair with Morris's wife, Janey, who had proof read the entire book, the only instance of her doing so with any other Kelmscott Press volume. "The fact is Morris is so good natured that he does not like to say 'no' but is printing this book surely against the grain" (Ellis to Frances Jenkinson, 14, March 1892, as cited in Peterson).
In Greek mythology, Proteus was an early prophetic sea-god or god of rivers and oceanic bodies of water, one of several deities whom Homer calls the "Old Man of the Sea". Some who ascribe a specific domain to Proteus call him the god of "elusive sea change", which suggests the constantly changing nature of the sea or the liquid quality of water. He can foretell the future, but, in a mytheme familiar to several cultures, will change his shape to avoid doing so; he answers only to those who are capable of capturing him. From this feature of Proteus comes the adjective protean, meaning "versatile", "mutable", or "capable of assuming many forms". "Protean" has positive connotations of flexibility, versatility and adaptability.
Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840-1922) was an English poet and writer best known for his poetry, but who also wrote a number of political essays and polemics. He is primarily known for his views against imperialism, viewed as relatively enlightened for his time. As an adult, he became an atheist, though he would walk in and out of episodes of faith and his writings, as well as some of his close friendships, show him to have had a serious interest in Islam. Blunt was also known for his scandalous affairs with prominent women, and a seemingly infinite capacity for falling in love. Blunt was a personal friend of William Morris and this collection was the third Kelmscott Press imprint that Morris produced. The book was printed in Morris's so-called Golden type, which was based on the very early roman font developed by Nicolas Jenson in 1475. Blunt consigned all elements of the design to Morris, but requested one thing: that the elaborate initials be printed in red. Morris acceded to this request, though he privately felt that printing entirely in black would have been more attractive. The book was well received and all 220 copies printed sold out very quickly.
Phyllis Crossley - neè De bathe (1869-1948) was the daughter of Charlotte Clare and decorated military officer Sir Henry de Bathe, 4th Baronet. De Bathe served in the Crimean war as well as serving as aide to Lord Rokeby. In 1887, at age nineteen, Phyllis married Savile Crossley, 1st Baron Somerleyton. Lord Somerleyton was elected to parliament as a liberal, Member of the Royal Victorian Order (4th Class) and acted a Paymaster General from 1902-1905. Her father and her husband cast a spotlight on Phyllis, a socialite who was known for her fashion sense. During her husband's military deployment in South Africa, Phyllis looked after their five children while maintaining a social calendar of canvassing and charitable events. Her image hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Clark Library, Kelmscott and Doves, pp. 13-14. Peterson A3. Ransom, Private Presses, p. 325, no. 3. Sparling 3. Tomkinson, p. 108, no, 3.