Limited Editions Club: Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)

January 6, 2019 § 2 Comments

Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)
LEC #118/11th Series in 1939-1940
Artwork: Drawings by Gordon Craig. Edited and amended by Herbert Farjeon.
Part of the LEC Shakespeare series.
LEC #195 of 1950. LEC exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Another LEC Shakespeare for you today, this time my personal favorite play: Macbeth. Having been in a production of the “Scottish Play”, it is one I personally enjoy on a level beyond the text. This is the first of the Bard’s tragedies we’ve covered from the series. It was likely performed in 1606 for the first time, and stands as the shortest of this subset of Shakespeare’s theater. It also have quite the mythology surrounding it, in particular never saying its name if you are involved in a production lest you wish to bestow the infamous “curse”. Curiously, my production was beset by some bizarre circumstances, including the sudden and severe illness of one actress and a technician breaking their ankle on stage during dress rehearsals. I’m not the superstitious type, but it was a weird coincidence…

Gordon Craig (aka Edward Gordon Craig) marks his debut to the Limited Editions Club and George Macy’s canon, but this would be his sole contribution. Among collectors today Craig’s artwork is not revered; I personally find his drawings satisfactory enough but they lack the pizazz of many of the other illustrators for this series. This was his second artistic rendering of Shakespeare, handling a publication of Hamlet before. He is far better known for his acting career, where among his acclaimed roles he was the title character for our play in question. For his work here he focused on the costuming (per Macy’s request) with his lithographic crayon drawings, which are quite nice from that perspective. He was also an accomplished wood-engraver, and I wonder how that approach might have been received.

Design Notes – Bruce Rogers designed the LEC Shakespeare. A. Colish printed the text, while Craig’s illustrations were printed by Fernard Mourlot.

Title Page – As with the entire set, Herbert Farjeon handled editing duties for the set.

Colophon – For the LEC Shakespeare, Macy upped the limitation count to 1950 from the usual 1500. This is from the 195th set.

Examples of Craig’s Illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – Of the five LEC Shakespeare a fan of the blog provided me, I have to admit from a literary perspective this was the most exciting for me. I adore this work, and it’s nice to have the LEC edition of it, even if the art is not my favorite.


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§ 2 Responses to Limited Editions Club: Macbeth by William Shakespeare (1939-1940)

  • Doc m says:

    hi, i have a couple of books from a box my grandfather left me back in the 70’s . i want these to go to someone who appreciates them,

    these were given to him by his freind who was a member of the heritage club from new york, back in the mid 30’s.

    to make it short, look at the pics i have attached,first set is the club book, second , smaller book is the consumer edition.

    the member book from what my mom told me is signed by norman rockwell, history says rockwell was attending a small conference in new york and club members were notified to come see him to have there exclusive books signed that day. i was also told that only 11 people showed up for the signing. i may be wrong but there was maybe 38 members at that time since the club was fairly new { 1935} and most members were woman.

    that is all the info i have. these were prized by my grandfather. the other books were older, but had between the pages some very nice and rare items. did not find this out till the late 80’s when i decided to inspect them.

    so i would like some to have these that love the era, history ect….
    i will take a reasonable offer. not looking to hit the lottery. i have a very good idea what they are worth so,. if not interested, please at least let me know, .


    dave mathias

    ps. sending pics in 3 installments, i hope i shared all you need to know.


    • WildcatJF says:

      Hi Dave,

      I do not purchase books through the blog. I appreciate the offer, though. Thanks for reading!

      ~ JF

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