One of my favorite of Easton Press’s Deluxe Limited Editions (DLE’s) is their facsimile of William Heath Robinson’s 1914 illustrated edition of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Though only limited to 250 copies, for whatever reason this is one that has not sold out, despite being available for well over a year. It includes 12 full-color plates by William Heath Robinson, each hand-mounted on gold stamped, de-bossed pages and protected by hand-applied tissue guards. In addition, there are 66 black-and-white illustrations. The book, while not having the size or the wow factor of the Kelmscott Chaucer, is simply stunning and one of the best editions of any Shakespeare work that I have had the pleasure of seeing.
W. Heath Robinson was born in May of 1872 and died in September 1944. He is actually best known for drawings of eccentric machines. As stated in the wiki entry for Robinson, the name “Heath Robinson” became part of common parlance in the UK for complex inventions that achieved absurdly simple results. However, it is his book illustrations which are so treasured by lovers of classic literature. These include Danish Fairy Tales and Legends (1897); The Arabian Nights, (1899); Tales From Shakespeare (1902), and Twelfth Night (1908), Andersen’s Fairy Tales (1913), The Water Babies (1915), and Peacock Pie (1916). However, his best and most famous work is his work for the 1914 edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which is what Easton Press has so finely reproduced. The play itself was written sometime in the early to mid 1590’s and remains one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.
This DLE includes:
- Illustrations in pen and ink and color plates by W. Heath Robinson
- Hand-marbled endpages by Peggy Skycraft of Skycraft Designs, Estacada, Oregon
- Mohawk Superfine text paper specially milled by Mohawk Fine Papers of Cohoes, New York
- Cowhide leather imported from Italy by Cortina Leathers of New York, New York
- Lithography by Falcon Press, Nashville, Tennessee
- Color plates hand-tipped and binding by Kingsport Book, Church Hill, Tennessee
- The edition is strictly limited to 250 copies (as was the 1914 edition this is a facsimile of)
- Comes with a protective fabric-covered clamshell case
- The book is hand-numbered and include a Certificate of Authenticity bearing the matching number. Mine is number 105.
Below are some photo’s of my copy for a visual of this stunning work. As usual with these DLE’s, the book looks even better in person, the leather is ultra-soft (with an amazingly deep and clean look) and the paper is very thick with a marvelous feel. The nice thing about this edition is that it is eminently readable, unlike some DLE’s, as it’s size remains comfortable. The color plates are really stunning, and the black and whites just jump out at you. Best of all, the imagery is perfect, exactly following and portraying the greatness of the story itself.
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