Chicago [New Rochelle, New York]: Walter M. Hill [Printed at The Elston Press], 1904. [O'Kane, Helen Marguerite]. First and Limited Edition. Hardcover. One of 500 copies, octavo size, 89 pp., inscribed by Charles Erskine Scott Wood twice, with MSS errata list. Very good +. Item #20072402
The first published work of literature by Charles Erskine Scott Wood (1852-1944), this copy inscribed twice by him; the first inscription to Albert Field Ehrgoth ("To My dear boy") is dated June 30, 1917; Albert, the son of Sara Bard Field, was killed in an automobile accident in 1918. Wood subsequently inscribed the book to "My darling daughter Kay" (Katherine, the daughter of Sara Bard Field, who would become a professor at Mills College) thus: "No copy of my book I could give would be so valuable as this one I gave to our beautiful winged Albert", dated July 20, 1920.
Wood was a fascinating man; a self-proclaimed anarchist, he would become a prominent attorney in Portland, Oregon, where he became known for defending labor unions and other "radicals", including Margaret Sanger, the birth-control activist. As a young man he attended West Point; after graduation he participated in the Nez Perce War of 1877 and was present at the surrender of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce - they became life-long friends and Wood became an advocate for Native American causes. Wood himself became a noted author of the day as well as a well-known landscape painter; he and Field lived from 1925 onwards in a home they built in Los Gatos named "The Cats", where would gather around them friends such as Chief Joseph, Eugene Debs, Robinson Jeffers, Margaret Sanger, and John Steinbeck.
Wood and Field, who met in 1910 (having been introduced by Clarence Darrow) became a couple in 1918 and would finally marry in 1938. Sara Bard Field (1882-1974) was an untiring and noted suffragist and social reformer, as well as a poet. Sara became sensitive to social issues around 1902 and quickly became active; when she and her first husband moved to Oregon she joined the Oregon College Equal Suffrage League and was the only paid organizer for the suffrage movement in Oregon, traveling and speaking around the State. After divorcing her first husband in 1914, she moved to Berkeley where she joined the San Francisco Political Union, a radical splinter group of the National American Woman Suffrage Association; she would become a national figure in the movement and, while becoming a published author in 1927, would remain socially active her entire life.
A lovely example of the work of the Elston Press, printed by them for Walter M. Hill, "a well-known Chicago bookseller who habitually commissioned books from America's finest printers" (Herbert H. Johnson, "Notes on the History of The Elston Press", p. 64). The book includes a woodcut headband and cartouche on the title page, and rubricated initial captial letters in two sizes, all designed by 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: Quarter linen with grey paper boards, paper spine label with black lettering; the two inscriptions mentioned above on the flyleaf, a MSS errata list in Wood's hand facing the title page, headband and small title page illustration by H.M. O'Kane (unattributed), rubricated initial capitals throughout in two sizes; Elston Roman type on French Ingres D'Arches paper watermarked "MBM", octavo size (8.75" by 6"), pagination: [1-4] 5-88, [89, colophon].
___CONDITION: Better than very good, the interior is near fine, clean and bright other than some light foxing to the first six to eight leaves, the signatures mostly unopened, the text block strong and square, and other than Wood's inscriptions and errata list free of prior owner markings; the binding is very good, the boards mostly clean with some light dustiness, the corners mildly rubbed, a bit of wear to the head of the spine, paper spine label sunned and with some chipping (no loss of text), the hinges with two very short tears to the endpaper at the gutter. Overall near fine internally with a very good binding, with the loving inscriptions by the author to his adoptive children.
___CITATION: Johnson no. 25.
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