Heritage Press: Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Thomas Gray (1951)
March 28, 2012 § 1 Comment
Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Thomas Gray (1951)
Sandglass Number VII:16
Artwork: Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker
Introduced by Hugh Walpole
Reprint of LEC #106/9th Series V. 12 in 1938
Click images to see a larger view.
Front Binding – After a bit of a hiatus, your curator is back with some more posts. Today’s is a real gem, a reprint of the 1938 LEC Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard by Sir Thomas Gray. This would be the sole work represented of the poet by the George Macy Company or its successors, but it did launch the relationship between Macy and the incomparable Agnes Miller Parker, who does some of her finest work in this book. I am a huge fan of Parker’s. I bought the LEC Far from the Madding Crowdmainly because it included a print of hers. For the design particulars, the Sandglass is surprisingly silent about that. I don’t know who designed it, nor who bound it, nor who printed it. So, I’ll just pass along what I can. The binding here is taken from one of Miss Parker’s wood engravings, embossed and stamped in silver over blue buckram imported from England. The font is Goudy Hand-tooled…and that’s about all I can say. A little peculiar, this one!
Gray composed the poem for a treasured aunt of his, revising a prior work that he was unsatisfied with and finishing the memorial in 1749. He spent much of that revision at his aunt’s grave at Stoke Poges, and Miss Parker spent her time sketching her wood engravings at that very same graveyard. So this is a book that was completely inspired by Stoke Poges, you could say! Having read this work, it’s a lovely poem accompanied by lovely art, bound lovingly.
If you’d like to know more about Miss Parker’s career with the Macy’s, I’ve touched upon that with the post on Far from the Madding Crowd.
Title Page – Hugh Walpole provides an introduction; his great-great-great-great uncle Horace Walpole (The Castle of Otranto) was a friend of Gray’s back in the 18th century. It has a distinctive look with the blue crisscrossed lines, which it maintains throughout the text.
Stanza 1 – Parker has done some lovely work in here, and I’ll just let it speak for itself. Amazing artist, that she was.
Personal Notes – I got this for $10 – 12 or so in Monterey at my favorite shop. I haven’t seen the LEC, although I wouldn’t mind owning it, I must admit! Definitely among my favorites in terms of design and artwork.