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Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Celebration of Clare Leighton.
It’s wonderful to learn that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts ( will be exhibiting a collection of Clare Leighton’s drawings, prints, posters, porcelain and books from October 19, 2013 through April 6, 2014.  
We have been admirers of Ms. Leighton’s writings and art for quite some time.  She is thought, by many, to have been one of the finest wood engravers of the twentieth century. She was born in England in 1898 and gained widespread renown there before bringing her considerable talents to America in 1939.... establishing residence first in Maryland, then in nearby Durham, North Carolina and finally in Connecticut.  
Ms. Leighton circa 1932
In her writings and in her art, she often celebrates the everyday as in her book, Four Hedges, where she writes:
 “I mow the lawn. How many people know the right way it should be done?  Feet should be bare; grass should be slightly damp.  The cold, moist clover strikes up from the mower upon my bare feet, and blades of cut grass and bits of slashed weeds stick between my toes.
We try, always, to have Ms. Leighton on our shelves and currently can offer the following:
From Four Hedges
We have a First American Edition of Four Hedges: A Gardener’s Chronicle written and illustrated by Ms. Leighton, published in 1935 consisting of 167 pages with 88 wood block illustrations. In the 1930s, Ms. Leighton settled in the countryside with her long-term partner, the political journalist Henry Noel Brailsford, and turned her creativity to the land. Gardening became her passion and this is the month by month chronicle of the garden she carved from meadowland deep in the Chiltern Hills of England.  It is a fine copy in dust jacket and signed by Ms. Leighton on the front end paper.  
It is priced at $150.
We also have a First Edition of One and Twenty published by the Duke University Press in 1945 consisting of 297 pages with 29 wood block illustrations.  Ms. Leighton, as a visiting lecturer in Art at Duke University, inspired the idea of a book of writings by Duke students to be illustrated by her art students. The writings were selected by esteemed Professor William Blackburn and the illustrations were by Ms. Leighton’s students.  And One and Twenty is notable for one other marked the first appearance in print for the celebrated Virginia born author, William Stryon.  The book is in very good condition in a dust jacket, with a “with the compliments of the author” card tipped in.  It is priced at $75. 
We have a copy of Where Land Meets Sea: The Tide Line of Cape Cod written and illustrated by Ms. Leighton, published in 1954, consisting of 202 pages with 38 wood block illustrations.  This book presents a collection of Ms. Leighton’s impressions of Cape Cod.  It is a very good copy in a dust jacket.  It is priced at $50.
From Growing New Roots
The fourth book we have is Growing New Roots: An Essay with Fourteen Wood Engravings published by The Book Club of California in 1976. In this book, Ms. Leighton writes of her first impressions of America and presents her interpretation of America in 14 exquisite wood engravings.  The book also includes a bibliography of books written or illustrated by Ms. Leighton.  This is copy Number 47 of 500 copies signed by Ms. Leighton.  It is in very good condition.  It is priced at $100.
We hope you will find your way to the Clare Leighton exhibition and when you do....leave some time to visit our favorite bookshop in Richmond, Black Swan Books at 2601 West Main Street.
 Thank you.

Monday, September 2, 2013

James Joyce's Ulysses and a few of It's Champions 

As I look through our copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, I am reminded of Joyce’s genius and of the four courageous women that fought to see his work published. 
Margaret Anderson and Jean Heap, in America, serialized a portion of Ulysses in their Little Review until the U.S. Courts ruled the work “obscene”.  Harriet Weaver, in England, published five installments of Ulysses in her Egoist Review before experiencing the same censorship and public indignation in England.

Sylvia Beach with James Joyce at
Shakespeare and Company
After those two setbacks, Mr. Joyce lamented to Sylvia Beach, owner of the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop in Paris, that he feared his book would never be published.  Ms. Beach asked, on the spur of the moment, if  Mr. Joyce would allow Shakespeare and Company to publish Ulysses.  Mr. Joyce gratefully accepted the offer and thus was born one of the most storied publisher/author partnerships in all bookdom.  Ms. Beach had no experience as a publisher and when the printers complained about Joyce’s major corrections to proof sheets and his insistence that the book covers had to be a “Greek blue” that was nowhere to be found in France. she simply said.... “Ulysses was to be as Joyce wished, in every respect”. 

The first Shakespeare and Company printing of Ulysses was finally issued in February, 1922 in an edition of 1,000 numbered copies.  The second printing of 2,000 copies was printed in France for the Egoist Press (Ms. Weaver) and 500 of those copies were burned by the New York Port Authority.  The third printing of 500 numbered  copies was published for the Egoist Press and 499 copies were seized by English Customs agents. The 4th, 5th, 6th,  7th, 8th and 9th printings were by Shakespeare and Company.  

A first edition of Ulysses, in today’s market, can fetch $75,000 with signed copies realizing even more.  Our modest copy is a Shakespeare and Company 9th printing (May, 1927) in 3/4 leather over marble paper with the original blue wrappers bound in and 735 pages of text.  It is in very good condition........  It is priced at $500.

And we also have a portfolio sized, signed limited edition in a dust jacket and slip case of Bloomsday: An Interpretation of James Joyce’s Ulysses by Saul Field and Morton P. Levitt printed by the New York Graphic Society in 1972.  It consists of 122 well illustrated pages.  Our copy, number XXI, is signed by Mr. Field and Mr. Levitt and includes an original engraving numbered XXI signed by Mr. Field .....It is priced at $225.

If you wish to delve further into the history of Joyce’s Ulysses, you might check out Sylvia Beach’s book, Shakespeare and Company or the film Joyce’s Women adapted, starring and produced by the wonderful Irish born actress, Fionnula Flanagan. (I had the good fortune to see her one woman performance of Joyce's Women, in a LA Theatre, that evolved into the film.)

Hope you are enjoying a great Labor Day!!  
And best wishes for a lifetime of joyous Bloomsdays (each and every June 16)!!