Ruskin's King of the Golden River, First British and American Editions

Front cover

1st American


Rear cover

Clamshell box

[Ruskin, John], and Richard Doyle (illus.), THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER; OR, THE BLACK BROTHERS: A LEGEND OF STIRIA. (London: Smith Elder & Co., 1851 [December 1850]).  First edition, 18 x 13.5cm (8vo), in publisher's cream paper-covered boards w/printed border, title & designs by Doyle to fr. cover, printed borders & central device to rear, a.e.g., coated decorative pale green ep.s w/binder's ticket (Westleys & Co., London; Ball 103B) to rear pastedown, [i-vi], [1] 2-52 pp. w/24 wood engravings (incl. fr. cover designs, frontis & prelim titlepage designs) by the Dalziels, Harvey Orrin Smith, Isabel Thompson etc. after Doyle, +2pp. publ. adverts to rear (undated, but obviously from Dec. 1850).  Printed by Henry Vizetelly, London.  Interestingly, Doyle misspelt the title's final word on his woodblock for the prelim titlepage as "STYRIA" & to correct this the engraver trimmed off the right-hand upward angle of the "Y" creating a crooked "I"; however, the misspelling remains uncorrected in the fr. cover design.  Inscribed to verso of fr. ep.: "Rose Emma Fawcett from her affecte Papa, Novbr 7th 1852."  Binding Good (expertly rebacked w/ivory linen, corners worn w/moderate paper loss, & a few rub spots & scratches to paper); contents Very Good (occas. lt. thumbing, & several illus. lightly coloured by a prev. owner).  Slater 226-27, Ashley IV 181 ("it is important that the original covers should be preserved, as the design upon the front includes two [wood]cuts which are not reproduced in the body of the work"), Ray 142 (Doyle "made a little masterpiece of Ruskin's fairy tale"--see also pp.xxii, 87 & 88), de Beaumont 348; see also Wolff 5993a Note.  Together with:

Ruskin, John, and Richard Doyle (illus.), THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER OR THE BLACK BROTHERS A LEGEND OF STIRIA. (Boston: Mayhew & Baker, 1860).  First American edition, 18 x 13.5cm (small 4to), in publisher's crimson morocco-grain cloth w/embossed borders to covers, gilt decoration to fr. cover, gilt title to fr. cover & spine, a.e.g., cream ep.s, [1-13] 14-68 pp. w/numerous wood engravings after Doyle, the originals re-engraved by Kilburn & Mallowry, Boston.  Printed by H.O. Houghton & Co., Cambridge MA.  Binding Near-Fine (minor staining & bubbling to ep.s); contents Near-Fine.

Both volumes enclosed in a fine custom-made pale tan linen clamshell box w/gilt title on brown morocco label to spine.  (Inv. #1230)  C$1,000

As Osborne (which has the 2nd British ed.) reports, "in 1841 the twelve-year-old Euphemia (Effie) Chalmers Gray dared Ruskin ... to write a fairy tale for her."  Ruskin & Effie were married in 1848, but 7 years later she filed for annulment claiming that Ruskin was unwilling to consummate the marriage--whether or not this was merely a ploy to gain her freedom so she could marry her not-so-secret lover John Everett Millais has long been a topic of discussion (Effie's huge commercialistic influence on Millais's subsequent career has elicited the sarcastic speculation that had Ruskin remained married to her, he would have written Bubbles).


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