(London: The Basilisk Press, 1979). 328 x 245 mm. (13 x 9 3/4"). 180 pp.,  leaf (blank),  leaf (colophon). No. 6 OF 25 SPECIALLY BOUND COPIES WITH 10 ORIGINAL PRINTS (of a total edition of 515).
Publisher's original dark blue morocco by Tony Miles of London, upper board with gilt vignette reproducing Craig's woodcut portrait of Crusoe, raised bands, gilt spine titling, gilt dragon ornament to tail panel, decorative blind roll to turn-ins, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. (Without the publisher's box.) With more than 80 small wood engravings in the text by Edward Gordon Craig, including 15 in the introduction, and WITH 10 ORIGINAL PRINTS, SIX OF THEM SIGNED with initials and dated, these bound in at the rear in windowed French fold leaves. Original prospectus laid in. Designed by Bernard Roberts and printed at The John Roberts Press on Van Gelder mouldmade paper. In mint condition.
From one of the most celebrated private presses of the last quarter of the 20th century, this is an extremely pleasing edition of one of the most widely published books in history--Defoe's classic castaway story, its 1719 first appearance often credited as the beginning of realistic fiction as a literary genre. While our volume is attractively printed and handsomely bound, it is memorable above all because of the wood engravings of Edward Gordon Craig. While they were originally created in 1924 to illustrate an edition of "Crusoe" for Count Harry Kessler's Cranach Press, this is the first appearance of the woodcuts; the Cranach edition never materialized, mainly because of the artist's obsessive fastidiousness, and he continued to work on the woodcuts into the 1960s. The son of acclaimied British actress Ellen Terry, Craig (1872-1966) began his career as a theater manager, stage designer, and actor. During the early 1890s, he met the artist William Nicholson, who introduced him to woodcutting and engraving, specifically the creation of simple black and white illustrations. Watching Nicholson at work inspired Craig to follow this art form, and he obviously had a natural gift for it. In 1898 he launched a new magazine, "The Page," illustrated with his own wood engravings. He produced some of the earliest "white line" wood engravings of the modern era, a technique that leaves the incised line uninked and the block's surface inked, the resulting image appearing to emerge from the paper, rather than being impressed upon it. The artist's son, Edward A. Craig, provides insight into the creation of his father's illustrations in his extensive introduction here, which also includes three essays on "Robinson Crusoe" by artist Craig. The Basilisk Press was founded in 1978 by Charlene Garry, who had opened a shop in the Hampstead section of London exclusively to sell modern private press books. Garry produced an acclaimed facsimile edition of the Kelmscott "Chaucer" and the first facsimiles of the "Red Books of Humphry Repton," with marvelous collotype plates. But though popular and to all appearances successful, the shop and press were undercapitalized, and, due to financial stresses, the Basilisk Press and Bookshop closed in 1988, to much lamentation. (ST12812)
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PJP Catalog: CA20BF.045