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Heywood John

Published by London Tho. Powell 1556, 1556
From Buddenbrooks, Inc. (Newburyport, MA, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since August 19, 1998 Seller Rating 4-star rating

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About this Item

VERY RARE. FIRST EDITION of one of the most curious allegorical poems of the Elizabethan period and an exceptional early English woodcut book. This the Berland copy with his famous ex-libris to the upper pastedown. Approximately thirty 3/4 page woodcuts and 10 full page woodcuts, most of which are repeated several times throughout the text (for a total of 118 woodcut illustrations). In addition there are four woodcut tailpieces (each used many times, a total of 73 impressions.) There are also two full-page portraits of the author. 4to (182 x 132 mm), beautifully bound in very handsome 19th c. full maroon straight grain morocco, tooled in blind and gilt on both covers and spine, titled and dated on spine in gilt, author's name on a small gilt lettered brown morocco label, tooled edges and dentelles, very attractive gauffered edges in a pattern reminiscent of a medieval binding, sewn headbands, silk marker. All in all, a highly 'original' binding, well executed and sturdy. A fine and handsomely preserved copy of this rare book, A1 (title), C4 and final leaf S4 supplied in expert, essentially indiscernible facsimile. VERY RARE FIRST AND ONLY EDITION, WITH VERY FINE PROVENANCE, THE BERLAND COPY, AND A VERY RARE BOOK. Interpretations of this, the most famous of Tudor poems, abound. Heywood himself, who took twenty years to finish the Spider and the Flie, didn't know quite what to make of it when it was finally completed. Whomever (or whatever) the spiders and the flies were supposed to represent (the prevailing critical interpretation has the spiders as the Protestant monarchy and the flies as the persecuted Catholics, Heywood clearly has the flies as underdogs, and he roots for them throughout. Since the political weather in England during the period of Heywood's composition was arguably the stormiest in the nation's history, it isn't surprising that the poem is difficult to interpret. He may have simply kept adjusting his loyalties, depending on whomever was being oppressed. One thing is certain, though Heywood was forever loyal to Mary (who is represented by the maid with the broom in the last series of woodcuts). When Elizabeth accessed, Heywood fled to the Brabant, where he died in the 1580s. Aside from The Spider and the Flie, Heywood's literary legacy includes books of epigrams and proverbs, a half-dozen plays, and a volume of collected works (which does not include the present poem), all of which were popular and often reprinted. Heywood was a distant cousin to Thomas More, and grandfather of John Donne. ".the illustrations and decorations as well as the general typographical excellence make this book outstanding among English work of the time," William A. Jackson; Catalogue of the Pforzheimer Collection, 1940. VERY RARE. Before this copy came to market, only the Houghton copy had appeared at auction in the last quarter century (in the Houghton sale in 1979 and again in 1995, both Christie's, London). Abel Berland, along with Robert Hoe, and J. R. Abbey, was a foremost collector of English literature in the 20th century, the sale of his library realized over $14 million. Bookseller Inventory # 25747

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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: London Tho. Powell 1556

Publication Date: 1556

Binding: Hardcover

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Buddenbrooks has one of the finest selections of fine and rare books in several fields and we invite you to visit us at our new premises in Newburyport, Massachusetts where have an open "brick and mortar" bookshop. We are also available to meet with clients in Boston by appointment only, where we have maintained a presence for over 40 years. We offer a search service for any books, old or new, which you may have been unable to find. Please call for further information, we look forward to hearing from you.

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