Epithalamion. Ida GRAVES, Blair Hughes-Stanton.
Epithalamion.

Epithalamion.

Colchester: Gemini Press, 1934 [issued by Basilisk Press, 1980]. Two volumes, with laid in prospectus. Quartos. Bound in original Winterstroke Tudor Brick paper covered boards, with top and bottom edges finished with a band of dark brown morocco, and gilt titled morocco label to the spine; accompanied by a pamphlet stitched booklet outlining the background and production of the present issue of 'Epithalamion'; both are housed in the publisher’s matching paper covered slipcase. Unpaginated [53pp. & 12pp.]. A Fine copy. One of 280 numbered copies printed on Basingwerk Parchment paper, this being number 281. From a total edition of 330 copies. Signed by Hughes-Stanton on the colophon page. The background pamphlet was printed by David Esslemont, who had been a student under BHS at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London. Item #17

This issue of 'Epithalamion' has a curious production history. In 1979, Blair Hughes-Stanton wrote a letter to the Basilisk Press, enquiring if they would be interested in some unbound sheets. The sheets were printed with a 1873 Columbian press, which Hughes-Stanton acquired shortly after leaving Gregynog, and appeared under his own Gemini imprint; the 150 sets of sheets on offer belonged to Hughes-Stanton’s 1934 edition of Graves’ 'Epithalamion', which was one of only two books produced by Gemini. The economic strain of the Depression, which hit the market for fine books particularly hard, had prevented Hughes-Stanton from binding and issuing the full run. Basilisk took up the offer, and the book appeared the following year, issued in bindings uniform with the 1934 originals.

The text and the accompanying illustrations were born of the affair between Graves and Hughes-Stanton. Hughes-Stanton, who met and befriended D.H. Lawrence in 1929, became an acolyte to the “Priest of Love”, and started to practice Lawrence’s preachings on sexual freedom. The courtship between Graves and Hughes-Stanton began while the latter was working at Gregynog, and still married to Gertrude Hermes. The affair caused a minor scandal, and Hughes-Stanton was nearly fired by the Gregynog Board of Directors for licentiousness. His sensibility too, already so disposed, took on an increasingly erotic aspect. But whether the product of sybaritism or not, these engravings are powerful illustrations to Graves’ collection of wedding songs.

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