Nonesuch Press, 1934.
Designed by Francis Meynell and printed for him by the Cambridge University Press.
Published in an edition of 625 standard copies and 75 specials.
Despite being a born-and-bred resident of the town of Hitchin in Hertfordshire, I’m ashamed to say that until recently I was completely unaware that one of this countries’ unsung literary greats also came from my home town. I refer to George Chapman, the poet, playright, and famed translator of the works of Homer. Not long after I was made aware of Chapman and his Hitchin roots, I discovered that Nonesuch has published a fine press edition on him, comprising of an essay by Havelock Ellis, and a choice selection of Chapman’s work. As there were 700 copies printed, finding a copy was easy, and before long one had joined my shelves. It was a handsome item, printed in Centaur and Arrighi on a wonderful Van Gelder laid handmade paper with a lovely ‘crackle’ to it when handled. The binding – curious, but nonetheless pleasant – consisted of a limp patterned paper cover, held within a loose hardcover ‘wrapper’ also covered in patterned paper. I was more than happy with my new book.
However, as was occasional with Nonesuch publications, I discovered a small part of the edition were special copies; in this case seventy-five of them were full bound in brown niger morocco leather, with text and line decoration on the spine in gilt, as well as gilt edges to the top of the pages. As I’m rather fond of special copies it became a book on my serious wants list, but copies were scarce.
After months of looking, only to find two rather unsuitable copies (one in a horrendous state and the other at a horrendous price!), I temporarily gave up. Then, one evening book-browsing on the internet, I decided to revisit my efforts and have another quick look. Straight away I happened on a fine copy in the United States at a very good price. Marvellous! When it turned up I was pleased as punch, as it was a beautiful copy in very fine condition. I’m glad that it eventually found its way to the home town of its subject.
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