New York: Limited Editions Club [printed by The Spiral Press], 1969. Parker, Agnes Miller. Limited Edition. Hardcover. No. 351 of 1500 copies, octavo size, 451 pp., signed by Agnes Miller Parker, with the separate plate also signed by her, and with the LEC Monthly Letter. Fine / very good. Item #19071306
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) is one of Britain's most influential Victorian novelists and poets; he often wrote of tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances, and was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
This was the last novel completed by Thomas Hardy, which began as a magazine serial in 1894 and was first published in book form in 1895 (n.b., info from Wikipedia). The plot twists and turns, exploring surprisingly contemporary themes and ones which were almost scandalous at the time the novel was written, including the role of an independently-minded woman, marital duties, society's views of children born "out of wedlock", and divorce. In fact, one critic of the novel chose to refer to it as "Jude the Obscene".
The illustrations are by Agnes Miller Parker (1895-1908), a celebrated painter and wood-engraver, known for collaborations with several fine letterpress studios at the height of her career. Her distinctive modernist style is associated with the cubist movement, and she was at one time a member of the Chiswick group. Parker illustrated nearly fifty books, exhibited prints with the English Wood Engraving Society, 1926-31, with the Society of Wood Engravers until 1956, and was elected an associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1939. Parker's wood-engravings in "Jude" bring the characters and scenes to life, and included is the separate plate which was issued after the book came out and mailed to customers, signed by her in pencil below the plate.
___DESCRIPTION: Quarter dark green morocco with mottled grey-green paper sides, black leather spine label with gilt lettering, speckled edges, small wood-engraved vignette by Parker on the title page, illustrated with her wood engravings throughout the text, some of which are coloured; set in linotype Caledonia and printed on white wove Curtis paper, octavo size (9.75" by 6.25"), pagination: [i-iv] v-xxii, -427, blank , colophon ; limited edition of 1500 copies, this no. 351; signed by Agnes Miller Parker at the colophon. In the original glassine wrapper, loosely laid in are the LEC Monthly Letter and the announcement for the book, as well as the separate plate referred to above, the illustration in black and green, with the signature of the artist below the plate in pencil, the plate being enclosed in a grey paper folding wallet with a darker grey deckled edge. The whole within the publisher's slipcase of heavy cardboard covered with the same mottled grey-green paper as the book with gilt lettering and borders on the spine.
___CONDITION: Fine; the binding is clean and bright, the leather smooth and supple, straight corners with no rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, and entirely free of prior owner markings; the book was likely never read as it still has the "tight" feel when first opened; the glassine wrapper very good, entire but with several large chips at the head and tail of the spine as well as a closed horizontal tear at the spine, age-toned where the leather meets the wrapper; the LEC Monthly Letter fine with only the original mailing crease, the announcement seems to have been printed poorly, as the header and opening paragraph are mostly missing and there is a hand-written notation at the top "#8 of 37th"; the separate plate is fine overall, clean and bright, with only a very small crease to the upper left corner, its wallet fine overall with one unintended crease to the large panel; the slipcase also fine overall, strong and sturdy with perhaps a spot or two of minute wear. A lovely production of an important Hardy novel.
___CITATION: LEC Bibliography no. 418.
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