One of Ten Printed on Vellum
KING CHARLES I. Eikon Basilike or The King's Book. London: Alexander Moring [at] The De La More Press, 1903.
Large, thick quarto (31 x 23.5 cm). Full black morocco gilt by Eyre and Spottiswoode, with “C.R.” and oval crowned device of Charles I with skull on upper and lower covers, angel corner pieces thin rules and nine compartments to spine, top edges gilt.; silk ties lacking, otherwise a fine copy with the ownership signature of Liberal MP and book collector John Burns, and the bookplate and signature of Marie Stopes, later owner of the press.
Deluxe edition, this one of 10 copies printed on vellum, bound without limitation leaf, with 29 hand-illuminated initials in colour, burnished with gold. Edited by Edward Almack. With a fine engraved pictorial series title-leaf by Blanche McManus, with a vignette of the British Library interior, for the “King’s Library” series. The title, printed in red and black, includes an engraved portrait of Charles I by J.A.C. Harrison.
The De La More Press published Marie Stopes’s first book, The Study of Plant Life for Young People, in 1906, and in the ‘40s and ‘50s, she owned the firm of Alfred Moring, Ltd., at which point she may have acquired this copy.
John Burns, as a book collector, created a very large private library, much of which he left to University of London Library
The Eikon Basilike is a purported spiritual autobiography attributed to King Charles I of England. It was published on 9 February 1649, ten days after the King was beheaded by Parliament in the aftermath of the English Civil War in 1649. Written in a simple, moving, and straightforward style in the form of a diary, the book combines ironic prayers urging the forgiveness of Charles's executioners with a justification of royalism and the King's political and military programme that led to the Civil War.