London: William Heinemann Ltd., . First Rackham Edition. Large octavo, original decorated grey cloth stamped in gilt on spine and front panel. 185 pp., Frontispiece and 19 additional full-page tipped-in colour plates, decorated title page and numerous black & white drawings in the text, plus binding design, all by Rackham. Mild foxing to preliminary & terminal leaves, a few small marks to rear panel, small bookseller's ticket (Henry Sotheran & Co) to lower edge of front paste-down; a very good clean copy.
Laid in is a two page Autograph Letter Signed by Rackham on Houghton House, Arundel (Rackham's House) Letterhead, dated 13 June / 26. The letter is to a young girl named Biddy Phelps, and reads in full:
I was very pleased to get your letter & to hear that my books are your friends. I am afraid there is not very much chance of my illustrating Puss in Boots (as a book). I have to settle these matters with a publisher. It is he who knows all about the business & has to arrange which, of the books that I should like to illustrate, will be the best to do."
I did once do a few drawings to illustrate Puss in Boots. If you ever see the book called Arthur Rackham's Book of Pictures, you would find one of them in that.
I am now very busy illustrating The Tempest. A story that you will be old enough to like in a very few years' time: that is, to read yourself or see on the stage, and even now you would like it if some one read parts of it, & told you about the rest. I expect my Tempest will be ready in time for Christmas. Love from Arthur Rackham".
The letter is accompanied by the original stamped & postmarked envelope addressed to "Biddy Phelps, Hodges, Five Ashes, Sussex" in Rackham's hand. The book has an inscription to the front endpaper: "E. B. P. Christmas 1928.", so it appears that the book was a Christmas present to Biddy "a very few year's time" after she received her letter from Rackham.
A charming and delightful letter from Rackham to a young girl, written with Love, treasured and preserved within the book that the letter discusses. Provenance: Evelyn Bridget "Biddy" Shirley (nee Phelps), 1913 - 2001; Lawrences Auctioneers, Wessex, 8th December 2017, Lot 2260 (these items). Item #312456
Price (USD): $1,750.00