M.S.Z. The Rede of Birds [and] Autobiographies. No publisher. 1906.
8vo. 3 volumes. Original canvas bound notebooks, decorated in ink to covers; manuscript poems with accompanying original watercolours of birds; a little wear to spine of one volume of Autobiographies, otherwise fine.
These three beautiful manuscripts are all in Art Nouveau style and are highly coloured, with calligraphic texts. The Rede of Birds is a day by day collection of aphorisms illustrated by striking stylised bird illustrations, some brightly coloured and others in muted pastels. The two volumes of Autobiographies, which contain poetic descriptions of common, mainly British birds alongside vibrant, more anatomically realistic illustrations, appear to be two versions of the same work. They contain the same poems but in a different order and even some of the same illustrations in slightly altered forms. One volume includes poems stuck in on separate pieces of notepaper in an untidy hand, so we can assume that this was the first version.
None of these wonderful works was ever published, and the only clue to identity of the author and artist is the set of initials 'M.S.Z.' The competence of the design and the beauty of the illustrations suggests that the creator might have been a professional illustrator. The only known British illustrator of this period with a surname beginning with 'Z' was Mark Zangwill, brother of the novelist Israel and a prolific contributor to journals and children's books. However, there is no record of his having a middle initial and the style of the illustrations is quite different from his mainstream published work, so this identification can only be conjectural.