London: William Heinemann, (1920). Rackham, Arthur. First Edition. Hardcover. First trade edition, octavo size, 111 pp., in a custom binding by Katharine Pountney. Near fine. Item #CNJWEM030
One of the most beloved fairy tales of all time, "Sleeping Beauty" (sometimes titled "Little Briar Rose") was originally published by Giambattista Basile (1566-1632) in his "The Pentamerone" published posthumously in 1634, based on a tale of which our earliest traces date back to the 1330s or 1340s. Basile's version was later adapted and published by Charles Perrault in 1697, upon which the Brothers Grimm based their story.
Therefore, when Charles Seddon Evans (1883-1944), of the publishing firm of William Heinemann, decided to edit the story to enable the inimitable Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) to have more text for his wonderful silhouette illustrations, he was going down a pathway already well-trodden. He described the feasts and discussed in detail the prince's attempts to prevent the evil spell, in order to make the story less violent and thus more acceptable to "modern" children and parents (n.b., from the "Quicklet on C.S. Evans's 'The Sleeping Beauty' " by Amber Larkins).
While "Sleeping Beauty" only has one full-colour plate (the frontispiece), it is replete with Rackham's glorious silhouettes; with three double-page silhouette drawings with colour, two full-page silhouette drawings with colour, and six double and eight single-page silhouette drawings in black and white; it is also replete with in-text illustrations, and has lovely pictorial endpapers in green and white.
In a custom binding by Katharine Pountney, with her stamp on the rear turn-in and her signature on the front free endpaper. We could find only traces of Pountney; according to some sources, she trained under Douglas Cockerell and later taught at Bromley School of Art (founded in 1878 and which continues today as "Ravensbourne University London").
___DESCRIPTION: In a custom binding by Katharine Pountney of full black leather, the front board with a vignette of a window in tan leather with a cobweb across the panes, the branch of a rose in gilt and brown crossing through the window, gilt lettering, the top and bottom with a triple-ruled border, the rear board with the gilt borders only, the spine with five raised bands with single-ruled gilt borders and lettering in gilt, the leather turn-ins with a single gilt ruled border and Katharine Pountney's binder's stamp on the rear turn-in, all edges gilt, patterned endpapers with flower silhouettes in black, butterflies in tan and white, all on a background of light blue, the inked signature of Katharine Pountney on the first flyleaf, title page in green and black with an elaborate decorative border which is mirrored on the silhouette frontispiece in black, green and pink, the single colour plate of "Briar Rose" tipped-in with another elaborate silhouette border, this in black and white of the leaves and branches of a rose bush, this plate facing the first page of text, the whole replete with the gorgeous Rackham silhouettes in both colour and black-and-white as set forth above; octavo size (9.5" by 7.5"), pagination: [1-9] 10-110, [111 - printer's statement].
___CONDITION: Near fine, the leather binding still smooth and supple, the gilt on the binding bright and unfaded, the corners straight, a strong, square text block, the interior clean and bright, and entirely free of prior owner markings; a few light marks to the leather with some very light scuffing to the raised bands and corners, light offsetting to the free endpapers from the leather turn-ins, and a small guttar crack between the front free endpaper and the first flyleaf; even with these few minor faults a lovely example of Arthur Rackham at his best, in a delightfully complementary custom binding.
___CITATION: Latimore & Haskell pp. 51-52; Riall p. 141.
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