Endymion. John Keats, H. M. O'Kane, Decorations.


[New Rochelle, New York]: [The Elston Press], [1902]. Limited Edition. Hardcover. One of 160 copies (unnumbered), large octavo size, 125 pp. Very good +. Item #19111501

John Keats (1795-1821) remains, for many, one of the greatest of the "Romantic Poets", who died at the tragically young age of 25. His work remains influential to this day; writers such as Jorge Luis Borges stating that "his first encounter with Keats' work was the most significant literary experience of his life" (n.b., quote from Wiki).

Keats' poem "Endymion" opens with the now-famous line "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever", so much beloved by artists and the public alike. It is a lengthy work, being comprised of four books of approximately 1000 lines each; Keats began thinking about the poem as early as 1816 (it would ultimately be published two years later, in 1818), and wrote to a friend that " 'Endymion' would be 'a trial of my Powers of Imagination and..invention...I must make 4000 Lines of one bare circumstance and fill them with Poetry' "(n.b., quote from the online Oxford DNB). Initial sales were poor, with the unsold copies being remaindered. Nevertheless, the poem has endured and has been reprinted countless times, often with lovely illustrations or decorations, as is the title page for this Elston Press publication.

The "H.M. O'Kane" who designed this lovely title page, and the initials throughout, was Helen Marguerite O'Kane, the wife of Clarke Conwell, the proprietors of the Elston Press; Helen would become known as "the most notable woman of the Arts and Crafts book" (n.b., from the web site of Michael and Winfred Bixler).

___DESCRIPTION: Simply bound in full dark green cloth, gilt letting on the spine, top edge gilt, fore- and bottom edges uncut, Ex-Libris on the front pastedown of Florence Fuller; it is possible this was the Australian artist Florence Ada Fuller (1867-1946), but it is impossible to know for sure; decorative double-spread title page with lettering in red and black and a wide border of intertwined branches forming a celtic-type design, the text with chapter headings in red, large 10-line initial capitals in red over the intertwining branch design in black, marginal chapter headings in red throughout,the title page and initials designed by H.M. O'Kane (see information on her above); Elston Roman type on American hand-made paper watermarked "Elston", large octavo size (9 5/8" by 6.75"), pagination: [i-viii] 1-116, [117, colophon].

___CONDITION: Better than very good, the binding strong with solid hinges, the interior clean and bright, the tasteful Ex-Libris of Florence Fuller as mentioned above on the front pastedown being the only prior owner marking; some light spots and a few stray marks to the binding and dustiness and toning to the uncut text block edges, the corners just beginning to rub, and a professional restored a single cracked gutter (name available upon request); overall a lovely example of a scarce publication of this enduring poem.

___CITATION: Johnson no. 11.

___POSTAGE: International customers, please note that additional postage may apply as the standard does not always cover costs; please inquire for details.

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Price: $900.00

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