AUSTEN, Jane (author). Chris. HAMMOND (illustrator). Pride and Prejudice. London: Gresham Publishing Co., .
8vo. Original straight-grained burgundy leather-backed brown cloth boards, single line vertical rule to sides in gilt, strikingly decorated and lettered with an Art Nouveau design in gilt to flat spine, grey endpapers; pp. xxi + [iii] + 392; with title in red and black, a frontispiece, and 5 other plates after engravings by Hammond on coated paper; a very handsome copy with just minor abrasions to spine extremities, and joints, and slight dulling to spine gilt, internally crisp and clean throughout, without inscription, and with only a few small fox-marks to the fore-edge margins; rather scarce in this binding.
First edition illustrated by Hammond, presented in the superior de luxe publisher's leather with very pleasing Art Nouveau detailing; issued simultaneously in decorated dark blue cloth. Many of the casings of Hammond's books were designed by A.A. Turbayne and Talwin Morris (leading designers of their day) and this binding might be one of that number. A most handsome edition, presented in a publisher's binding, of the UK's favourite novel.
Christiana Mary Demain Hammond (1860-1900) was one of the most productive book illustrators of the 1890s. She was born in Camberwell, London, to lower-middle-class parents, however quite remarkably she and her two siblings all went on to distinguish themselves as successful artists. She trained at Lambeth School of Art and exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, both in 1866. Supporting herself as a jobbing artist and illustrator she never married, finding regular and lucrative work illustrating for various magazines of the day including Pall Mall Magazine, Quiver, and The Idler.
Hammond was unusual by dint of being a woman illustrator in a predominantly male-dominated industry. She followed the contemporary trend by embracing the popular 'Regency' or 'Cranford' style alongside Hugh Thomson and the prolific brothers Charles and Henry Brock, although she had no contact with them. This idiom dictated that period details were closely preserved with regard to dress, interiors, and manners, however this did not preclude sharp and confident characterisation of the protagonists. Hammond's main focus is on small nuances of facial expression and gesture, as she varies posture and expression to highlight the individuality of the characters. All of this made her the perfect illustrator for Austen. Indeed she is probably best known for her versions of Sense and Sensibility and Emma, which were both published in 1898, and her edition of Thackeray's Vanity Fair (also 1898), which is considered her finest work. Tragically she died suddenly, and unexpectedly, in her studio in 1900, when only 40 years of age, in the same year this book was published.