HUBBARD, Elbert. Hollyhocks and Goldenglow. East Aurora, New York: The Roycrofters, 1912.
Small 8vo., 13 x 19cm; roan, embossed lettering with arts and crafts floral design border; text printed in black and red with numerous matching head and tailpieces, as well as initials, within the text; top edge gilt, else untrimmed; pp. 158, [ii]; a near fine copy internally, upper edge a trifle dusty; some rubbing to covers with head and foot of spine nicked, with a little loss, and thread showing; ribbon bookmark detached but laid in.
Limited edition, numbered and autographed by the author with a photo portrait as frontis.
Elbert Hubbard was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher. Influenced by William Morris on a trip to England in the early 1900s, he set up his own press, the Roycroft Press, and by 1910 this Arts and Crafts community of printers, furniture makers, metalsmiths, leathersmiths, and bookbinders numbered almost 500 people. Their books were eccentric, characterised by fine leather bindings, and almost always printed on handmade paper.
1912 is synonymous with the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and this disaster had a profound impact on Hubbard. In the fictionalised account included within this collection, he singles out Ida Straus, who refused to board the lifeboats and leave her husband. Hubbard's own comentary reads as follows:
"Mr. and Mrs. Straus, I envy you that legacy of love and loyalty left to your children and grandchildren. The calm courage that was yours all your long and useful career was your possession in death. You knew how to do three great things—you knew how to live, how to love and how to die."
This passage is even more poignant as Hubbard and his wife, the noted American feminist and writer Alice Hubbard, were passengers on the ill-fated RMS Lusitania in 1915. When the boat was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat, they too refused to board the lifeboats. A survivor's account reads as follows:
“Neither appeared perturbed in the least. Your father and Mrs. Hubbard linked arms—the fashion in which they always walked the deck…I called to him, "What are you going to do?" and he just shook his head, while Mrs. Hubbard smiled and said, "There does not seem to be anything to do."
Later he continues:
“He simply turned with Mrs. Hubbard and entered a room on the top deck, the door of which was open, and closed it behind him.It was apparent that his idea was that they should die together, and not risk being parted on going into the water.”
A fascinating book from a key figure in the American Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century.