Sir Thomas Malory.
The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur, of His Noble Knights of the Round Table, Their Marvellous Enquests and Adventures, the Achieving of the San Greal, and in the End, Le Morte Darthur… Embellished with Many Original Designs by Aubrey Beardsley.
J. M. Dent,
Special issue bound in vellum. Frederick H. Evans’s copy with two original Beardsley drawings and Evans’s photograph of the original design for the wrapper of the parts issue.
The story of King Arthur and his knights, as written by Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1405–1471), involved visionary aims and daring quests that ended tragically. Beardsley’s massive project of designing and illustrating this edition of Malory’s narrative could have gone the same way. The tuberculosis that afflicted him from childhood onwards produced severe illness and lung hemorrhages, even as he was fulfilling J. M. Dent’s commission. But he persevered, and the substantial sum he received from the publisher allowed him to quit his hated day job as a clerk in a London insurance company. (To say he was unsuited to such work would be an understatement.) He owed his liberation in part to the bookseller and photographer Frederick H. Evans (1853–1943), who had brought Beardsley to the attention of J. M. (Joseph Malaby) Dent (1849–1926). This copy of Le Morte Darthur belonged to Evans.
From the Mark Samuels LasnerCollection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press