Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., . Robinson, Charles. First Trade Edition. Hardcover. First U.S. trade edition as illustrated by Robinson, quarto size,  pp., in original dust jacket. Near fine / very good. Item #17110604
Percy Bysshe Shelley's (1792-1822) "The Sensitive Plant" is a delicate fairy fable about ephemeral beauty and the aspiration to follow dreams when the reality of the senses fails. It was first published in 1820 in "Prometheus Unbound" along with some of Shelley's best known work; here it is re-imagined with the hazy watercolour illustrations of prolific children's book illustrator Charles Robinson (1870-1937). Though paired with Shelley long after his death, they are well matched, "his black and white illustration reflects the influence of Beardsley and Walter Crane, and his watercolour illustrations have delicacy and sensitivity, greatly helped by the four colour process early in the century as the alternative to lithography. By incorporating lettering into the page design, and in his planning of the book as a whole, he developed the Arts and Crafts tradition of the book as a work of art" (Peppin, Brigid & Micklethwait, Lucy, "Book Illustrators of the Twentieth Century," p. 265).
This edition of "The Sensitive Plant" certainly exemplifies that ideal of the artist's hand in all aspects of a book's design, with a beautifully composed typeface, decorative borders, pale pink page numbers, and stunning full-color mounted plates. With an introduction by Edmund William Gosse (1849-1928), a poet and author who was influential in the literary world of his day, encouraging the careers of Yeats and James Joyce, he served as the librarian of the House of Lords and a lecturer at Trinity College, eventually serving as the literary editor for the 1911 edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica".
___DESCRIPTION: Original full green cloth with gilt pictorial upper board and backstrip, top edge gilt, illustrated endpapers, illustrated half-title, pictorial title-page, first page of the introduction framed in a pictorial border with a large decorative initial, eighteen mounted color plates with tissue guards (including frontis), numerous color and black and white vignettes in text, headpieces, tailpieces, and initials; quarto size (10.5" by 8"), pagination: [i-vi] vii-xii [xiii-xvi] 17-127 , the first trade edition as illustrated by Robinson, vintage bookseller's ticket on rear paste-down endpaper (Brentano's, New York). With the scarce original pictorial dust jacket which matches the illustration on the endpapers, which is unclipped although, as was the general practice of the day, with no printed price.
___CONDITION: A near fine copy, internally bright and complete with only a few, light stray marks, no prior owner markings (other than the bookseller's ticket referred to above), the text block is slightly cocked yet remains strong, with solid hinges, and the gilt covers are marvelously bright and clean; note that the register was slightly off on the decorative title page, the illustrations are perfect; just a hint of rubbing to the head and tail of the backstrip and to one corner, this copy is near fine; the dust jacket is very good plus, clean with only a few small chips at the edges, and a small tear along one joint, none of which obscures the text or illustrations; overall very good, and scarce as such. A stunning production of a lovely children's tale.
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