Canton, NY: Caliban Press, 2001. Paperback. One of 125 copies. The Tempest is generally thought to be Shakespeare's last play and is now considered one of his greatest. This beautiful edition was designed, printed, and bound by Mark McMurray at his Caliban Press, which was established by him in 1985. An announcement for the book states that this edition was inspired by a variety of sources, including the First Folio, the Bread & Puppet Theater of Vermont, John Coltrane's Ole, the film Black Orpheus, and Prospero's library. The text is taken chiefly from the First Folio edition of Shakespeare's works published in 1623. Except for the eight songs, the spelling has been modernized. The book is bound in handmade lavender paper covers with a purple morocco spine. A circle has been cut into the front cover and the title is printed underneath on light green paper. The book is printed using seven handmade and mould made papers from several different makers of handmade paper. The type is 14 point Dante, a type that was designed by Giovanni Marderstaag and first released in 1954. There are striking images found within this edition taken from a variety of found and historical sources including relief prints, collage, pochoir, and a volvelle. There is also a linocut by wood engraver Greg Lago. The book is housed in a handmade blue paper portfolio. The spine has a white title label, and the front cover has an image also used in the text. 119 pages. PRI/121010. Fine.
New York: Harper & Brothers, 1930. Third printing. Uncommon. Inscribed by both Paul Robeson and his wife, the author Eslanda Robeson in 1931 on half-title. Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was one of the major public figures of the 20th century. He was famous for his cultural accomplishments as a singer and actor, his athletic abilities, and his political activism. He became active in the Civil Rights Movement and other social justice campaigns. His sympathies for the Soviet Union and for communism, and his criticism of the United States government and its foreign policies, caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era. In 1921 he married Eslanda Goode (1895-1965). She also had many accomplishments as an anthropologist, actor, civil rights activist, and author. The Robeson's had a complicated marriage, made more difficult by his multiple affairs. This biography of him was her first book. Supposedly Robeson was deeply angered by the way he was depicted as lazy, immature, and in need of her. Despite all, their marriage endured until her death in 1965. Bound in reddish-brown cloth with gilt titling to spine. Covers and spine are bumped, chipped, and worn. Interior pages very good with aging to paper and a few brown spots and chipped fore-edges. Several b&w illustrations of Robeson throughout. Despite flaws a very desirable copy with the two inscriptions. 178 pages. AFRIAMER/120518.
London: [various], 1697-1702. A unique set of ten first edition Restoration comedies from the personal library of actor and theater manager John Philip Kemble. Each volume is initialed, collated, and pronounced perfect on the title page in ink by Kemble along with the date. John Philip Kemble (1757 - 1823) was an important English actor who also achieved fame as the manager of the Drury Lane and Covent Garden theaters. He was also known for assembling a theatrical library that was unrivaled. After he retired in 1819 he sold his collection of 4000 plays and forty volumes of playbills to Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire. The Devonshire collection is now part of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The remainder of Kemble's library was auctioned by Evans in Pall Mall over ten days beginning January 21, 1821 (from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). The ten plays in this set were by well known Restoration playwrights John Vanbrugh and George Farquhar. John Vanbrugh (1664-1726) was an untrained but accomplished architect who designed Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard in conjunction with NIcholas Hawksmoor. He was a popular dramatist and some of his comedies such as The Relapse and The Provok'd wife are still performed today. The Pilgrim was originally written by Beaumont and Fletcher in 1647. Vanbrugh wrote the prose adaptation for the theater in 1700. George Farquhar (1677 - 1707) was an Irish playwright of real comic power who wrote for the English stage at the beginning of the 18th century. He stood out from his contemporaries for originality of dialogue and a stage sense that doubtless stemmed from his experience as an actor. His early plays were primarily spirited variations on a theme: young men have their fling for four acts and reform, unconvincingly, in the fifth. The plays have freshness, however, as well as wit and a lively human sympathy (Encyclopedia Britannica). For this collection of plays Kemble meticulously mounted the individual pages of each comedy on slightly large sheets of contemporary white paper. The volumes have been beautifully bound by Riviere and Son in full tan calf with gold tooling and lettering. The spines have five raised bands with gilt decorated compartments and there are two leather labels, one with the play's title and author, and the other stating "J.P. Kemble's Copy."With gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, and all edges gilt. All of the books are in near fine condition except for The Provok'd Wife, which has a sunned front cover. A beautiful and historic set of late 17th-early 18th century Restoration plays. DRAMA/013119. Near Fine.