LE MORTE D'ARTHUR. The Birth Life and Acts of King Arthur of his Noble Knights of the Round Table Their Marvellous Enquests and Adventures The Achieving of the San Greal and in the End Le Morte Darthur with the Dolourous Death and Departing out of This World of Them All. The Text as Written by Sir Thomas Mallory and Imprinted by William Caxton at Westminster the Year MCCCCLXXXV And Now Spelled in Modern Style. With an Introduction by Professor Rhys and Embellished with Many Original Designs by Aubrey Beardsley.
London: J.M. Dent, Aldine House, MDCCCXCIII & MDCCCXCIV [1893 & 1894]. First Edition. Two Volumes, one of 1,500 ordinary paper copies, of a total edition of 1,800 copies. Quarto, bound in the original publisher's full cream cloth over beveled boards, lettered and decorated with an elaborate art-nouveau design by Beardsley in gold on front covers & spines, rear covers with publisher's imprint in gold, top edges gilt, others uncut. 990 pp [paginated continuously], Glossary & Index to rear of Vol. Two; Illustrated throughout with photogravure frontispieces on India paper, 18 full-page wood engravings with tissue guards (5 double-page), numerous text illustrations and approximately 350 designs for chapter headings and borders, all by Beardsley. Browning to endpapers, primarily in Volume One; light wear to edge of sine head of Volume One, corners slightly knocked, a bright, clean, very good set. Item #313023
¶ Beardsley's masterpiece. In 1892, seeking to emulate the books of the Kelmscott Press, John M. Dent commissioned the 20-year-old Beardsley to produce this edition, work that took the young artist 18 months to complete. The book was issued in 12 parts in decorated paper wrappers, with the purchaser given the choice of sending it back to Dent, who bound them in vellum or in this cream cloth case-binding with gilt blocking designed by Beardsley, leaving them in wrappers, or sending them to a binder of their own.