Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, Limited Editions Club

{Ed. Note: LEC has a couple of these in stock in new condition.  Contact Jeanne Shiff at 212-737-7600 or 800-701-8870 if interested.}

Certainly one of the most beautiful and sought after works of the Limited Editions Club (LEC) is their 1994 edition of Wuthering Heights, illustrated by Balthus. In fact, it would be hard to argue anything other than this being one of the most beautiful fine press books of the last century.

Balthus originally drew the illustrations for Wuthering Heights in 1933, when he was 25, for an edition of Bronte’s novel that never materialized. At 85, for this LEC edition, Balthus agreed to have the entire suite presented in their originally destined context.  Balthus also wrote a personal afterword for this edition where he discusses, among other things, why his illustrations stopped half way through the book. The illustrations span from the the childhood of Heathcliff and Catherine until her death.  Balthus says that for a year he struggled with attempting to illustrate the subsequent events in a way that would not conflict with the preceding illustrations.  It proved futile for “in the end, just as Heathcliff gave up his scheme of vengeance and destruction, so did I, with trying to illustrate the last part of the novel.

Wuthering Heights was first published in 1847 and remains one of the most popular and endearing novels of the Western Canon. The doomed love between Catherine and Heathcliff, and how their passion destroys them, is one of the most known stories in all of English literature. The darkness of the story is perfectly matched by the setting on the moors of Yorkshire, evoking stormy images that remain forever in the mind of all who have read the novel.

Wuthering Heights was Emily Bronte’s only novel.  Born in 1818, Emily Bronte died in 1849, two years after Wuthering Heights was published. Her sister, Charlotte Bronte, is famous for her Jane Eyre. Another sister, Anne Bronte, was also an accomplished novelist and poet. Like many books that became classics over time, Wuthering Heights received mixed reviews when it first came out; some considering it amoral due to the passion of Heathcliff and Catherine.

Count Balthazar Klossowski de Rola (1908-2001), better known as Balthus, was a Polish-French modern artist, considered one of the most important of the twentieth century. Though modern, his works are mostly classical in nature, with significant influence derived from pre-renaissance painters and from the Italian Renaissance. His art was figurative, at a time when most had eschewed that.  Balthus was extremely private, almost a recluse. Despite that, his funeral was attended by Prime Ministers, artists and rock stars from around the world.

About the Edition

  • 15 lithographs by Balthus, who also signs this edition.
  • Afterword by Balthus.
  • Lithographs printed on fine Japanese paper, in brown-toned black ink, by Bruce Porter of Trestle Editions, then mounted on Arches paper.
  • Off white mould-made stock specially made for this edition, in unusually heavy weight, at the Arches mill, built in Epinal in 1492.
  • Paper watermarked with the coat-of-arms of the family Klossowski de Rola (Balthus).
  • Folio format designed by Michael and Winifred Bixler
  • Text in thirteen point size, in Monotype Dante. Cut in 1954 by Giovanni Mardersteig of Officina Bodoni in Verona.
  • Title page in Dante type, 24 point to 36 point size, with the title itself in 60 point, printed in deep sepia.
  • Binding of goatskin dyed gray-green by John von Isakovics at Jovonis Studio in West Springfield, Massachusets.
  • Limited to 300 copies, mine is 288

Pictures

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Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Solander Box
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Book Resting in Solander Box
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Cover and Spine
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Side View of Book
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Monthly Letter
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Title Page and Frontispiece
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Sample Page with Text
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, First Sample Page with Text and Illustration
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club,  Second Sample Illustration 
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Third Sample Page with Text and Illustration
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Afterword by Balthus
Wuthering Heights, Limited Editions Club, Colophon

13 thoughts on “Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte, Limited Editions Club

  1. I have 3 books from this period at LEC and have to say it really is the jewel in the crown, i feel very lucky to be an owner, i believe Jeanne may still have copies left, if you are really interested, buy, you probably will never own a more beautiful book and work of art.

  2. Just listened to an unabridged edition of Wuthering Heights on CDs, then I watched on dvd the classic movie with Laurence Olivier. The movie eliminates the second generation and helps clarify the confusioncaused by too many characters. I don’t often think a movie is better than a book, but in this case I believe it was.

    A very beautiful book. If it sold for less than a thousand dollars, I would buy it.

  3. You need to correct an error up in the fourth paragraph:

    “Born in 1818, Emily Bronte died in 1949, two years after Wuthering Heights was published.” It should say 1849.

    Anyway thanks for this

    Ironjaw

  4. I had never seen photos of this LEC edition before but it is magnificent — what fine book design is about. While I may not have also seen eye to eye with Sidney Shiff’s choices of what he published, the LEC books published during his tenure are magnificent and they represent a considerable step up in quality from earlier LEC editions. While many pine for the older LEC books published under the Macy family, nearly every LEC edition that I truly prize is a book designed and/or published by S. Shiff.

    Incidentally, the illustrations by Balthus are fascinating and to my eye have a distinct ‘Roaring Twenties’ sensibility. If one eliminates the backgrounds (moors, specific interiors and rooms, etc.,) the characters look as if they could have stepped out of the pages of ‘The Great Gatsby’.

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