Limited Editions Club: Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1969)

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (1969)
LEC #418/37th Series V. 8 in 1969
Artwork: Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker
Introduction by John Bayley
LEC #1063 of 1500. Heritage Press reprint available.

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – After the salacious Robinson Crusoe post last month that had mountains of text about the feud between Macy and Edwin Grabhorn (that pulled in Valenti Angelo for good measure), our book this month will seem a much calmer, straightforward affair, haha. That being said, it is definitely among the gems of the brief Jonathan Macy period of the Club in my view: Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy with the woodcut majesties of Agnes Miller Parker. As I’ve noted before in our previous posts on Hardy, Parker served as the illustrator for all five of his novels produced by the Limited Editions Club and the Heritage Press, and this would be both the last Hardy novel and Parker’s final commission when it was issued in 1969. I cover both of their careers in the linked post discussing Far from the Madding Crowd.

Jude followed suit with Far from… by including a Japanese rice paper print issued to subscribers of one of Parker’s woodcuts, this time as a two-color print; alas, I did not have the good fortune of repeating my success as I did with Far from… in getting this with my copy, but it came otherwise complete. Curiously, this rice paper print was excluded from the Hardy novel in between these two, The Mayor of Casterbridge.

Design Notes – John Dreyfus was the designer for Jude, continuing on from Far from… and Casterbridge. Dreyfus looked back for some of the design motifs established by A.G. Hoffman’s Heritage exclusive The Return of the Native for Jude, including the font choice of Caledonia, the spine style, and, of course, the continued appearance of Parker’s woodcuts, considered essential by the Monthly Letter for the Hardy novels. It could be why the series ended here, as Parker herself never saw another commission come from Cardevon Press or Sid Shiff before her death in 1980. I do have the announcement for this book, which I’ll share now:



Title Page – A classy title page reveals John Bayley’s involvement as the book’s introduction author.

Colophon – This is #1063 of 1500, and was signed by Parker.

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

Personal Notes – After picking up Far from the Madding Crowd, I knew I wanted to collect all of the Parker illustrated Hardy novels (and…well, ANYTHING she’s done for the Club, haha), so this pickup from Powell’s definitely helped me get a bit closer! This is my second Parker signed edition and I still have quite a few to go to get to having them all…so I must have patience!