A turn-of-the-century edition of Shelley's best known verse, both epic and short, adorned throughout with gorgeous illustrations by the English artist and designer Robert Anning Bell. Almost a decade after the book was published Bell would go onto become head of design at Glasgow School of Art, and from 1918 to 1924 professor of design at the Royal College of Art, during which time he also worked on a series of mosaics for the Palace of Westminster. The book also boasts an introduction by Sir Walter Raleigh (though not he of swashbuckling fame). On the elaboration of Shelley's poetry with illustrations Raleigh comments:
There is no great poet who offers a more hopeless task to the illustrator, if by illustration is understood a drawing that helps to the understanding of the poem. But Art begets Art, and there is surely nothing illicit about an embroidery of fair designs suggested by a reading of the poems. If they be found superfluous or irrelevant, they must share that condemnation with the preface.
January 27, 2015