(Hammersmith: Doves Press, 1902). 234 x 165 mm. (9 1/4 x 6 1/2"). 55,  pp. ONE OF 25 COPIES ON VELLUM (and 325 on paper).
Publisher's limp vellum by the Doves Bindery, flat spine with gilt titling. Printed in red and black. Front pastedown with bookplate of C. S. Ascherson (see below), dated 1902 in pencil. Tidcombe DP-4. ◆Boards a little wavy, minor (naturally occurring) variations in the grain of the covers, but a fine copy, the vellum leaves smooth, creamy, and bright, and the binding with few signs of wear.
This is the luminous vellum printing of the fourth publication of the Doves Press, gathering a number of poems by Tennyson written at various times in his long life, all of them reflecting his abiding interest in Homer and Greek myth. In contrast to Kelmscott Press founder William Morris' proclivity toward the Baroque, Thomas J. Cobden-Sanderson, the Doves Press founder (along with Emery Walker), demonstrated that printing with plain type (designed by Walker) that is well set and with good margins could produce notable work. As Cave says, the Doves Press books, "completely without ornament or illustration, . . . depended for their beauty almost entirely on the clarity of the type, the excellence of the layout, and the perfection of the presswork." For Cobden-Sanderson, who took up printing late in life, the elegant simplicity of the Doves books was intended to be in harmony with the works of God in creating the beauty and mystery of the universe. Nowhere does the simple splendor of Walker's typography appear to more perfection than in the sought-after vellum printings of Doves books. As with all other aspects of production, Cobden-Sanderson was fastidious about the quality of the vellum used, as can be seen in the bright, buttery-soft leaves here. The selections in this volume are framed by two short translations of passages from Homer's "Iliad," both featuring images of fire and, appropriately, printed in red. Two other poems concern the tragic figure of Oenone, the first love of Paris; two are inspired by the "Odyssey"; and the other three treat, in turn, the figure of the Theban seer Tiresias; Tithonus, lover of the goddess of Dawn; and the myth of the theft of Persephone by Death. This copy was originally in the collection of famed book collector Charles Stephen Ascherson (1877-1945), a British shipowner of Jewish-German heritage who was the father of noted British actress Renée Asherson and grandfather of journalist Neal Ascherson. (ST16328)