Fairy Tale Ending for William Morris at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury
William Morris’ The Wood Beyond The World, one of the earliest fantasy novels, sold for £2,196 alongside other printed books and works on paper at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ Bibliophile Sale on Thursday 23rd January.
William Morris was a writer, artist and textile designer who was heavily involved in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts movement, of which he was the leader. The movement was developed during the 1850s by a group of friends who supported traditional artistic processes and, later, supported social and economic reform. As a designer, William Morris was a passionate believer that the design and manufacture of a product should not be separated and he insisted on learning the techniques and understanding the materials used in anything produced in his workshop. He said, "without dignified, creative human occupation people became disconnected from life."
In 1891 he founded the Kelmscott Press in Hammersmith, London, where he produced limited edition books in the elegant and classic style of the fifteenth century. It was at Kelmscott Press in 1894 that this copy was printed by Morris and the frontispiece designed by Edward Burne-Jones, a friend and artist also closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This rare survivor was one of only 350 that were made on paper at the press. [Lot 264]
Considered by many as the father of modern fantasy novels, William Morris was the first writer to create a completely imaginary and supernatural world. The Wood Beyond The World is believed to have heavily influenced C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series and other post-war authors including J. R. R. Tolkien.
In turn, their influence can be seen in more modern fantasy novels, some of which reached top prices elsewhere in the auction. A first edition of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince with signed presentation inscription from the author ‘To Harry’ on the title page sold for £1,037. [Lot 328] Another signed copy of Rowling’s work, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was sold with related ephemera achieving £1,159. [Lot 329]
Full prices realised from this sale can be found online at www.bloomsburyauctions.com. The next Bibliophile sale will take place on Thursday 13th February and will be followed by the sale of a collection of natural history books from the library of a south-coast gentleman on Thursday 27th February in London.