Strictly Limited to Begin with, and then one of the Lucky Copies to Escape the Flames


([Ditchling: St. Dominic's Press], July 1930). 295 x225 mm. (11 1/2 x 9"). [56] leaves.Arranged and pictured by Thomas Derrick. No. 5 OF 100 COPIES SIGNED by the author and illustrator.

Publishers black roan over green paper boards, gilt design on upper cover, smooth spine with gilt titling. Illustrated throughout with amusing caricatures by Thomas Derrick. Free endleaves with a couple of tape marks and a bit of browning where something was once tipped in. Taylor & Sewell A-191; not in Ransom. Corners and tail of spine lightly bumped, mild offsetting from illustrations, otherwise a fine copy--clean, fresh, and bright inside and out.

Written by a famous Catholic convert and printed at a Catholic private press, this is a strictly limited edition of a modern mummers' play, with the traditional characters of St. George the Crusader, the infidel knight, the doctor, and Father Christmas set among the crumbling Ottoman Empire in the years following World War I. Though best known today for his Father Brown mysteries, G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) was a leading intellectual light in turn-of-the-century England, delighting in public disputes with George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, and Bertrand Russell. He was an influential literary and art critic, and a prolific essayist. One of the subjects he examined in his writing was the mumming (or mummers') play, a traditional English folk entertainment featuring the crusader St. George in a story of death and resurrection: the saint battles an infidel warrior, one of them is slain, but is then restored to life by a doctor. In "Turkey," a farcical version in this tradition, the doctor is trying to save a turkey that had been carved by Father Christmas--just as German ally Turkey had been carved up by the victorious powers following the Great War. The exuberant illustrations by another Catholic artist, Thomas Derrick, caricature these traditional characters in a very theatrical way. Derrick (1885-1954), who trained and later taught at the Royal College of Art, specialized in cartoons and illustrations. He was a regular contributor to "Punch" and was a member of the Catholic "traditionalist" literary and artistic circles that included Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and the printer of this work, Hilary Pepler. According to Tomkinson, Pepler (1878-1951) founded the St. Dominic's Press on 14 January 1916 at Ditchling in East Sussex with the simple aim of earning his living by printing with his own hands, rather than by employing others to print for him. He approached his work with seriousness, and Cave says that his printing "from the start had a simple grace that was particularly attractive." Along with Eric Gill and Desmond Chute, he established the Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic at Ditchling in 1920, to provide a supportive community based on Medieval guilds for Catholic craftsmen. This is a scarce title in the marketplace: ABPC and RBH list just four copies at auction in the past 40 years. By way of explanation, Taylor & Sewell says that "very few bound copies were issued; some sets of sheets were sold unbound, and most of the edition was ultimately burnt."

Add to Cart Price: $1,750.00

PJP Catalog: Rawson_76.


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