Heritage Press: The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (1963)

February 7, 2011 Comments Off on Heritage Press: The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (1963)

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (1963)
Sandglass Number unknown
Artwork: Paintings by Wray Manning
Introduced by David Daiches
Heritage Press Reprint of LEC #345/31st Series V. 6 in 1963

Click images for a larger view.

Binding – A reddish cloth with a cottage inlaid into the front boards with what seems to be gold.  This is a library copy, so it’s a bit banged up.  Django2694 had this to share about the book’s LEC edition, as well as some insights into the artist, Wray Manning:

Here is some information from my LEC Monthly Letter for The Mill on the Floss; it is uncharacteristically reticent about the details of the book’s design, spending three pages on the story of George Eliot and her publisher, so I will limit this to the details of the edition itself:

The type is 11 point Baskerville on a 13 point body; the title page, the part divisions, and the chapter initials are set in a type called Sylvan in English (and Champlevé in French). The paper is a special laid paper made by Curtis, the typesetting and printing was done at Mount Vernon under the supervision of Edna Beilenson, the widow of Peter Beilenson of Peter Pauper Press, who, like her husband before her, had been responsible for many Macy books. Frank Fortney did the binding, which is a very attractive rough green tweedlike fabric, and the title on the shelf label is stamped in gold on a leather disk (as the Letter says, “like a millstone.”)

Though there is no specific mention of designer–either in the Monthly Letter or in my LEC bibliography–one suspects that it was a project initially started by Peter Beilenson, interrupted before completion by his death, and perhaps finished by Helen or Jonathan Macy and Edna Beilenson. This is the purest conjecture on my part, but since the designer is always credited (unless it were George Macy himself, who was, of course, deceased by this time), I suspect no single living person was primarily responsible.

The artist, Wray Manning, was born and educated in the Midwest, served as a machine gunner in WW I (which would have put him into his mid-60s or older when he did this assignment), and was by his own admission heavily influenced by the work of John Sloan (who did the illustrations for the LEC’s Of Human Bondage), and George Bellows (famous for his paintings of boxing, such as “Stag at Sharkey’s.” He did 24 oil paintings for The Mill on the Floss and for the LEC they were reproduced by color lithography in the studios of Michael Pagliaro in Holyoke, MA.

I personally like the illustrations very much, though I understand WildcatJF’s lack of enthusiasm for them if he has not read the novel. They are constrained–the groupings of the characters are frozen in the manner of old daguerrotypes, and I think that fits in well with the tone of the story itself. The most successful of all are the portraits of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, which I wish had been the illustrations chosen for the site. Portraiture was Manning’s forte, and he really nailed these characters. Incidentally, this was his only LEC but not his only Heritage: he did the illustrations for the Heritage Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit and they are my favorite of all the Heritage Dickens, and his portrait of Seth Pecksniff is my alltime favorite Dickens illustration by any artist who illustrated Dickens.

Title Page – Here’s Manning’s first piece, which as Django notes, work like dagurerrotypes of the main cast.  They don’t do much for me, personally, but I do like the rich colors Manning used.

Page 31 – Some sad kids, there.

Page 270

Personal Notes – Checked out from my local library.  I haven’t read Eliot, but I’d like to at some point.

If you know who designed the Heritage edition of The Mill on the Floss or its Sandglass number, please let me know through the comments here or at my thread about this blog at the George Macy Devotees @ LibraryThing!  Thanks!


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