The Fables of Aesop, and Others, with Designs on Wood
The Fables of Aesop, and Others, with Designs on Wood

BEWICK, Thomas (illustrator). The Fables of Aesop, and Others, with Designs on Wood ...

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BEWICK, Thomas (illustrator). The Fables of Aesop, and Others, with Designs on Wood ... Newcastle: Printed by E. Walker, for T. Bewick and Son …, 1818.

Large 8vo. Nineteenth century half calf, marbled boards, spine with gilt raised bands and lettering; pp. xxiv + 376; 188 head-pieces and 136 other vignettes, tail-pieces, etc., by Bewick; this copy slightly trimmed and bound without 'thumb-mark' receipt, a very clean copy in a very handsome binding. Provenance: ffep with bookplate of "I.J.L.G" and title page inscribed "I. Julia L. Gordon/ from her sister Lady Swinburne". Lady Swinburne was the mother of Algernon, the Victorian poet; Julia Gordon was the mother-in-law of her sister Mary, and so more properly her 'aunt' than her sister-in-law. Mary had a daughter, also called Mary, who was to become a writer and, despite being his first cousin, the great love of Algernon Swinburne's life. Also with bookplate of Herbert Riley to front pastedown and another small ownership signature to ffep.
First edition, this being one of the largest ("Imperial Paper") copies.
This work, begun in 1812, gave Bewick great pleasure along with much worry and anxiety, largely over delays and difficulties in the publication. Many of the cuts were quite successfully reworked for the second edition of 1823:
'During a severe illness, with which I was visited in April 1812, [...] I determined, if I did recover, to go on with a publication of Esopâs Fables (sic) [...] As soon as I was so far recovered as to be able to sit at the window at home, I immediately began to draw designs upon the wood of the fables and vignettes, and to me this was a delightful task. In impatiently pushing forward to get to press with the publication, I availed myself of the help of my pupils, (my son [Robert], William Harvey and William Temple) who were also eager to do their utmost to forward me in the engraving business and in my struggles to get the book ushered into the world. Notwithstanding the pleasurable business of bringing out this publication, I felt it also an arduous undertaking. The execution of the fine work of the cuts, during the day light, was very trying to the eyes, and the compiling or writing the book by candle light in my evenings at home, together injured the optic nerve and that put the rest of the nerves out of tune, so that I was obliged for a short time, to leave off this intense application untill I somewhat recovered the proper tone of memory and sight again. I found in this book more difficulties to conquer than I had experienced with either the Quadrupeds or the Birds." (Bain, p. 146-7).
Roscoe 45a. Hugo 408.