Hammersmith, London: Kelmscott Press, 1894. 4to (11.5 x 8.25 inches; 292 x 210 mm). Printed in black and red Troy type text. Elaborately illustrated by Walter Crane. Original limp vellum with ochre color ties (all intact); cloth clamshell case. Item #404815
An unusually fine copy of the second, wholly-revised edition from the Kelmscott Press, printed in an edition of 250 copies. A lavishly designed book with 23 pictures by Walter Crane, woodcut initials, double-spread title page, strapwork vignettes and designs throughout by William Morris.
The fantasy tale by Morris, one of the first to combine an imaginary world with the supernatural, also presents sociopolitical themes. The book represents the only title in the Kelmscott Press oeuvre in which a reissue was made, improved upon and enhanced. Thus, the first book of the press presented the same title, but without the Walter Crane illustrations, much more ascetic without illustration, and a much plainer version. In the present edition, Morris increased the size of the book, changed the type to Troy, giving it a much more gothic look. Walter Crane, one of the premier artists and illustrators of the period, was commissioned to produce drawings which were then cut in wood for the final press run, in accordance with 15-16th Century European book production. The result is strikingly graphic and evocative, and is one of the more aesthetic productions of the press. An increasingly scarce Kelmscott title and an unusually fine, tight copy, brilliant internally; the vellum covers show minor wear, and with all the ties intact, and showing no breaks or fraying. Peterson A27; William Morris and the Art of the Book, p. 129.