The Passionate Shepherd To His Love


More Marlowe, and something else for the month of May while it lasts. This embellished collection of poems by Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh dates from 1902, and is another limited edition. The embellisher was PA Schwarzenbach who provides suitably florid decorations.



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RS Sherriffs’ Tamburlaine the Great


I would have posted this by now if it hadn’t been for the recent unpleasantness. Robert Stewart Sherriffs (1906-60) was a Scottish artist who I confess I hadn’t come across before until Nick H (thanks, Nick!) drew my attention to this book at silver-gryph’s eBay pages. Sherriffs’ illustrated edtion of The Life and Death of Tamburlaine the Great by Christopher Marlowe was published in a limited edition in 1930.

The drawings are black-and-white throughout, and of such a quality you have to wonder why Dover or someone hasn’t done a reprint. The general approach owes much to the usual suspects, notably Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke, but there’s a development of these earlier styles that you also find in the work of Ray Frederick Coyle and Beresford Egan. In addition to the full-page plates Sherriffs also provided a number of insect vignettes, the last of which is a Death’s-head Hawkmoth.




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Charles Ricketts’ Hero and Leander


Enthusiasts of Charles Ricketts’ illustrations can find book collections of his drawings and paintings but the artist (with partner Charles Shannon) was also a printer, typographer and book designer who would no doubt have preferred his illustrations to be seen in their intended setting. The Internet Archive has a few choice examples of Rickett’s books, of which the most profusely illustrated is Hero and Leander (1894), Christopher Marlowe’s poem (completed by George Chapman).


Also of interest is Danaë (1903) by Thomas Sturge Moore with its black and red type, A Bibliography of the Books Issued by Hacon & Ricketts (1904), and A Defence of the Revival of Printing (1899). The latter is of interest to book designers and typographers for its presentation of Ricketts’ aesthetic philosophy. Ricketts’ and Shannon’s books made continual use of a small leaf motif as a pilcrow to mark a fresh paragraph. In A Defence of the Revival of Printing Ricketts discusses his replacement for the ampersand (&), which he disliked, preferring instead a new character combining the letters E and T, ampersands being a contraction of the Latin word “et”. There’s also some discussion of his unique type designs which he charmingly refers to as “founts”, preferring, like contemporary William Morris, the antique terminology.


Colophon from Hero and Leander. A rose forms the monogram of Ricketts’ and Shannon’s Vale Press.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Art Nouveau illustration
Dorian Gray revisited