London : , 1912. Item #05329
A Truly Beautiful Illuminated Manuscript on Roman Vellum by Sidney Farnsworth
Francis Thompson (possibly Jack the Ripper) Infamous Ode "The Hound of Heaven"
Elegantly Bound by Rivière & Son
FARNSWORTH, Sidney, scribe & illuminator. [RIVIÈRE & SON, binders]. THOMPSON, Francis.
The Hound of Heaven. A Poem by Francis Thompson. [London], finished on the 1st. day of May, Anno Domini, 1912.
A Superb Illuminated Manuscript on Roman Vellum with Five Exquisite Miniatures
in Pen, Ink & Watercolors.
Small quarto (8 5/8 x 6 3/4 inches; 219 x 172 mm.). [2, blank], , [1, blank], [1, colophon], [5, blank].Twelve vellum leaves, all but one separated by white silk leaves; Half-title in red and black with heavy gold initial 'T' and seven other historiated initials in heavy gold. Two large and four small miniatures in pen ink and watercolor.
Bound by [Rivière & Son] in 1912 and stamp-signed "J & E Bumpus Ltd, Oxford St. W". Elegant navy blue crushed morocco. Front cover with a frame of inlaid dark blue morocco strips outlined and separated by plain and dotted gilt rules. Large central panel of dark green morocco with a central gilt crown with seven red dots, surrounded by twelve inlaid cream morocco Tudor roses, all within a superb gilt leaf and vine design. Rear cover with a frame of inlaid dark blue morocco, and within, three plain and dotted gilt frames. Spine with five gilt dotted raised bands, inlaid strips of dark blue morocco outlined and lettered in gilt in compartments, gilt ruled board edges, triple gilt-framed turn-ins, vellum liners and endleaves, all edges gilt. Housed in the original fleece-lined, quarter dark blue morocco over blue cloth clamshell case, smooth spine lettered in gilt. A wonderful binding on a quite stunning illuminated manuscript.
The Hound of Heaven is a poem centering on the pursuit of a sinner by a loving God. Written in a lofty, dignified style that expresses deep feelings, it is classified as an ode. It first appeared in Poems, a collection of Francis Thompson's works published in 1893.
"Famed English poet Francis Thompson is known for his intelligent poetry and elegant prose with renowned authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien being influenced by his writing. Francis Thompson, however, had a dark past; one full of drug addiction and vagrancy around the streets of London. A past which now may include being responsible for the most high-profile unsolved serial murders in British history. According to Australian researcher and teacher Richard Patterson, Francis Thompson was the Whitechapel serial murderer Jack The Ripper. Richard Patterson has been studying the Jack the Ripper murders for almost 20 years and his discoveries about Francis Thompson being a lead suspect in the identity of the murderer make interesting reading. This is a man who has traveled the world visiting London and the murder sites, talking with Ripper experts and visiting the Burns Library in Boston, which holds the largest collection of Thompson’s letters and papers in the world. His is a theory which not only can place Francis Thompson at the all murder sites but provides a motive for the killings and highlights his ability and opportunity to carry out the attacks. Most startling is how the writings of Francis Thompson himself tell of using his written words as a form of confession and his poems which give a narrative of a man wandering the streets of London brutally murdering women with a knife. He lived in Providence Row, a few yards from where Mary Kelly was killed. He had surgeon training and he carried a razor sharp knife. Right before the ‘Ripper’ murders a prostitute, he had fallen in love with, severed their relationship and fled him. Right after the murders, he was placed in a private sanitarium. A poet who was also a murderer? If he is indeed Jack the Ripper and has gone to hell, he will not be lonely. He will join the ranks of the other infamous serial killers who were also poets, such as Israel Keye, Dennis Nilsen, Joel Rifkin, Ted Bundy, Jack Unterweger, Dennis Rader, and the Zodiac Killer.” – Richard Patterson." (crimetraveller.org).
Title page with "The hound of heaven" in gilt with the initial "T" in the title in heavy gilt. With a Poem by Frances Thompson below in red and black. With a rectangular miniature (2 1/4" x 3 3/4") framed in gold and set within a dark blue border, beset with white Tudor roses with gold highlights connected by curling vines. The miniature depicts a pen, ink and watercolor pastoral scene, the sun in heavy gilt and with a friar running into a wood.
"I Fled him" in gilt with a large heavy gold initial "I", text in red and black, set within a dark blue border with white Tudor roses with gold highlights, connected with curling vines.
Small miniature (1 7/8" x 1 3/8") within a gold frame, depicting a cottage window trellised with large red flowers. Large six line historiated heavy gold initial "I" (6 3/4" x 1") within a blue border with three Tudor roses with gold highlights.
Small miniature (1 1/2" x 2 5/8") within a gold frame, depicting a pen, ink and watercolor pastoral scene with trees and meadows.
Five line historiated heavy gold initial "I", (3 3/4" x 3/4") within a blue border with one Tudor rose with gold highlights.
Small miniature (1 3/8" x 2 3/8") within a gold frame, pen, ink and watercolor depicting clouds above a landscape and sea.
Text in red and black.
"Naked I wait Thy love's up-lifted stroke!" with four line historiated heavy gold initial "N", (2 1/4" x 1 1/8") within a square dark blue border, one Tudor rose, with gilt highlight.
Text in red and black
Small miniature (1 1/2" x 2 1/2") pen, ink and watercolor depicting a castle in the clouds, within a gold frame
"Strange, piteous, futile thing!" with large five line heavy gold initial "S".
"Halts by me that footfall: Is my gloom, after all, Shade of his hand, out-stretched caressingly?" with four line heavy gold initial "H". Large rectangular miniature (3 3/4" x 2 1/2") framed in gold, depicting Christ stretching out his hands. All set within a dark blue border with white Tudor roses, highlighted in gilt and connected by curling vines.
Colophon. Text in black with red initial.
The colophon states "This book, written out by me Sidney Farnsworth, was finished on the first day of May, Anno Domini 1912." Several years ago we sold two other Sidney Farnsworth illuminated manuscripts on vellum one dated dated August 1912 and the other dated October 1916, both of George Eliot's O May I Join The Choir Invisible. The first of those was created by Farnsworth for John and Edward Bumpus, the second was bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe. The present volume dated May 1912 precedes the August 1912 manuscript of O May I Join The Choir Invisible by three months and is especially notable for the superb execution of the five miniatures. The other two Farnsworth manuscripts whilst heavily decorated, did not contain any watercolor miniatures.
Bumpus of Oxford St., was a London department store that sold books, and was known for classically designed, well-executed, and generally undervalued bindings produced under the Bumpus name for a substantial period, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. Packer reports that Bumpus bindings came from the bookselling firm of John and Edward Bumpus, which was founded in 1780, and grew to offer a variety of goods. The Bumpus name was still spoken with honor amongst London binderies well into the 20th century - though Bumpus never bound a single book itself, farming out the work to top binderies, Rivière & Son, Sangorski & Sutcliffe, etc.
Sidney Farnsworth (1886 - 1926) was an early twentieth century British painter, sculptor and illuminator who wrote a book on the latter subject, Illumination and its Development in the Present Day. The present manuscript exemplifies much of the advice he offers to aspiring illuminators in that work: take inspiration from Medieval manuscripts without slavishly copying them; calligraphy is as important as illumination and should be perfected; "nothing offers a better opportunity... as a subject for an illuminated volume, than poetry."