First edition. Limited edition of 1,250 copies. Two volumes. Publisher's original beige cloth with titles and extensive decoration in gilt to the upper boards and spines. Top edges gilt, the others untrimmed (some pages uncut). Red silk page markers. Title pages printed in red and black. Illustrated throughout by Louis Fairfax-Muckley with 26 full-page illustrations (several double-page), decorative title pages, head and tail pieces and decorative initials. A very good set, the bindings square and firm with a few minor marks to the lower board of volume two and a hint of bumping to the corners. The contents with a previous owner's ink inscription to the front pastedown of volume two, an area of minor abrasion to the paper on the front pastedown of volume one where an inscription has been erased, toning and a little foxing to the endpapers and the very occasional spot of foxing to the textblock edge are otherwise in very good order and clean throughout. An excellent set.
Louis Fairfax-Muckley (1862-1926) studied at the Birmingham School of Art and later worked with William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, notably being involved in the printing of the celebrated Kelmscott edition of Chaucer in 1896. This, his edition of Spenser's great epic poem, was modelled upon, and intended as a companion to, Dent's edition of Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley (1893-94), and as a competitor to the George Allen edition of Spenser illustrated by Walter Crane (1897). Fairfax-Muckley's work sits somewhere between the two, sharing the fine, organic, delicate line and the Arts and Crafts movement ethic of Crane, whilst adopting the visually bolder aesthetic of Beardsley. A beautifully illustrated edition, and a wonderful example of artistic book production at the fin de siècle.
Stock code: 19999