Limited Editions Club: Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles M. Doughty (1953)

Travels in Arabia Deserta by Charles M. Doughty (1953)
LEC #231/21st Series V. 11 in 1953
Artwork: Illustrations by Edy Legrand
Introduced by T.E. Lawrence, edited by Edward Garnett
LEC #801 of 1500. Heritage Press reissued.

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Hello! This month brings not tales of terror but instead the memoirs of Charles Doughty and his time in the Arabic countries, Travels in Arabia Deserta. Doughty was an Englishman who was seemingly down on his luck and decided to travel to Damascus to try his hands at adventuring. The resulting journey, taking place over several years in the 1870s and put to pen in 1888, initially was issued to little fanfare. However, noted author and adventurer T.E. Lawrence discovered the book after it had been edited by Edward Garnett in 1908, bringing it the fame it never saw upon its first publication. Lawrence’s praise gave Doughty’s travel biography a new life, shining a light on his time with the Bedouin people and his positive impact on the people of the region. This is the sole work of Doughty the LEC would produce, and the Heritage Press did reissue this one.

In 1953, George Macy brought the Lawrence approved and Garnett edited edition to LEC subscribers under his own design, featuring the artistic chops of Edy Legrand, who himself was on a pilgrimage to the Arabian Peninsula and produced sketches of sights he observed, creating an epic travelogue of two different individuals through their own preferred tools of the trade — Doughty in word and Legrand in art. Check out The Nibelungenlied for his complete Macy bibliography.

This binding is distinct in that it “folds” over like a journal, and spotlight a beautiful series of Legrand illustrations and decor that pop. Jeanyee Wong returns to handle the calligraphic designs appearing here and the decadent map on the title page, following her work in All Men are Brothers. To my knowledge, it was not issued with a slipcase.

Design Notes – Macy, as noted above, served as the designer:

Spine

Back Cover

Title Page – I really adore the map motif Wong produced for the title page! As I observed above, T.E. Lawrence provides an introduction (I am not sure if this is entirely new for the LEC or reused from the 1920 reprint Lawrence pushed to publication), and Garnett’s abridgement and prefatory note were used over the original Doughty produced in 1888.

Colophon – This is #801 of 1500, and was issued unsigned. Legrand was out and about for a stretch in the 1950s, and did not sign several of the LECs he was involved with during this time frame.

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

Personal Notes – I ordered this book from Moe’s Books as I’ve always found this to be a fascinating binding (having seen a copy before when I was unable to procure it), and I love Legrand’s work, so adding another of his to my collection was a no-brainer.