Heritage Press – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1949)

May 26, 2014 Comments Off on Heritage Press – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1949)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1949)
Sandglass Number 5N
Artwork: Illustrations by Mariette Lydis
Introduced by Carl Van Doren
Reprint of LEC #199, 19th Series, V. 3, in 1949.

Click images for larger views.


Front Binding – American-turned-Briton James returns for his third appearance on the blog with The Turn of the Screw, one of his best known works. The prior appearances were Portrait of a Lady and The Ambassadors. Portrait features James’ Macy output. This is a rather bold binding, one we’re discuss shortly. I’m in the middle of reading this myself, and the story is quite solid, I must say.

Our two prior James novels had one-shot artists in charge of their illustrations, but Turn features an alumni of decorating a Macy tome: Mariette Lydis. Granted, she only did three books for the LEC — this, The Beggar’s Opera way back in 1937, and Love’s Labour’s Lost for the LEC Shakespeare line in 1939 — but her style is quite unique and visually striking. She matches the haunting atmosphere of James’ words quite well, in my opinion. This could be because she had illustrated the book before for the Hand and Flower Press of England. Macy’s original intent was to license Lydis’ work from that edition, but upon reconnecting with Lydis (who had moved to Brazil since her last commission) she insisted that she draw anew instead of recycle her older work, and thus a new set of illustrations! More on Lydis can be found in the Sandglass…more than you will find on James, to be honest! According to the Sandglass, this would have been the first time the Company licensed artwork that they themselves did not commission. However, after my initial posting, Django6924 was quick to point out:

Actually, the Sandglass is perhaps being somewhat absent-minded on the matter of reusing illustrations: the LEC in its first half-dozen years re-used Tenniel’s illustrations for the Lewis Carroll books, Kemble’s for Huckleberry Finn, Cruikshank’s for Punch and Judy, W.M. Thackeray’s for The Rose and the Ring though redone by Kredel (not to mention the HP Vanity Fair with Thackeray’s artwork), Hugh Thomson’s for The Cricket on the Hearth, the English version of the 2-volume Salome featuring Beardsley’s artwork, Hoffman’s original artwork for Slovenly Peter (albeit adapted by Kredel), the French version of Flowers of Evil with Rodin’s drawings, The Pilgrim’s Progress with William Blake’s artwork, and the period engravings for Aesop’s Fables, redrawn by Bruce Rogers.

However, in a curious case of memory failure, the Sandglass seems to have also forgotten how Mr. Macy made Ms. Lydis’ acquaintance, for in the Sandglass for The Beggar’s Opera, one reads:

In 1936, she came to New York {from Paris} for an exhibition of her paintings and her book illustrations…While she was here, she was told of The Limited Editions Club’s Second Competition for Book Illustrators, and she immediately submitted a series of lithographs to illustrate The Beggar’s Opera. The judges awarded her one of the prizes.

Things are a bit muddled here, as after winning the prize the LEC Directors decided to produce an illustrated edition of The Beggar’s Opera and had pulls made of Ms. Lydis’ art to illustrate said edition…so, one could say that the cart didn’t come before the horse, but one could as easily say that The Beggar’s Opera illustrations were really done before they were commissioned.

If, since most of these except for the reuse of the Thomson and Blake artwork, the originals were redrawn and/or colored you are willing to say that there was no prior reuse of existing art, then the first acknowledged case of such would either be the use of Piranesi’s etchings for The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire or Pierre Watrin’s illustrations for The Revolt of the Angels.

So, I suppose either the Sandglass author made a critical oversight or their definition of “licensing art” is radically different from ours! Thanks as always to Django6924 for the extra details.

Design Notes – Saul and Lillian Marks were the designers for this book. Some of their work previously featured on the blog before includes The Three-Cornered Hat and The Revolt of the AngelsThis is yet another brilliant execution of book design. The Marks chose Bembo for the font in a 16-point size, and chose floral “printer’s marks” as ornaments to help give the pages more flourish. The original pages from the LEC were sent to Macy in order to have photographic reproduction done for the Heritage edition; Duenewald Printing Corporation handled the task. Russell-Rutter bound the book with a brown linen with silver leaves elegantly placed to symbolically suggest the “screw”.




Title Page – Reader’s Club judge and frequent Introduction writer/book editor Carl Van Doren is summoned once more to give some history to a Macy publication.  He was a major contributor to Macy’s publications, being involved with The Federalist Papers, Penguin Island (LEC), The Singular Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Iliad (Heritage) and Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (LEC), among others.

Examples of the Illustrations by Lydis (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – I bought this from Bookhaven (now Old Capitol Books) in Monterey two or three years ago. It’s quite a lovely book. The LEC is not all that different design-wise, but the materials are far more exquisite. And, as I said before, the story is (so far) quite good!

Sandglass (right click and select Open in New Tab to see full size):


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

What’s this?

You are currently reading Heritage Press – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1949) at The George Macy Imagery.