Charles Kingsley / W. Heath Robinson - The Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby - 1915

Charles Kingsley / W. Heath Robinson - The Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby - 1915
Children's books, Illustrated, Literature, Art Nouveau - Quantity: 1 - First edition, with 8 colour plates + over 100 drawings - Book

Publisher’s green cloth with gilt lettering and decorations to upper board and spine, top edges green, lower edges untrimmed, 8 colour plates (including frontispiece with tissue guard), over 100 line drawings (including 50 full page), illustrated title page, x + 320 pages, 22.1 x 17 cm..

First Robinson edition, 1915.
Beare 80a.

Charles Kingsley’s classic tale of the chimney-sweep Tom and his underwater adventures, first published in 1863, is here interpreted by the wonderful W. Heath Robinson, with profuse illustrations including 8 colour plates plus over 100 line drawings in the artist’s distinctive fantasy style.

Geoffrey Beare notes (in ‘The Illustrations of W. Heath Robinson’) that this was an ideal text for Robinson to illustrate, “providing the opportunity to combine two of his favourite subjects, children and the sea ... At the time the book was commissioned it was probably intended that it should be published in a lavish gift-book format like ‘Bill the Minder’ and ‘Hans Andersen’, but with the outbreak of war plans would have changed and the book eventually appeared on the market in the autumn of 1915 as a rather modest octavo volume.”

William Heath Robinson (1872-1944) was a leading light of the so-called Golden Age of book illustration. He established his reputation with his delightful children’s stories, including ‘Bill the Minder’ and ‘The Adventures of Uncle Lubin’, and with his beautiful Art Nouveau books, including editions of Shakespeare, Hans Andersen, Rudyard Kipling and Edgar Allan Poe – many given the luxurious gift-book treatment typical of the period. He later became so well known for his cartoons featuring comically absurd gadgets and inventions that his name entered the English dictionary as an adjective, used for anything ingeniously or ridiculously over-complicated in design or construction.

Contents very clean, with no owner inscriptions. Usual age-toning to paper, foxing throughout (very heavy to first and last few pages, and to pages adjoining colour plates; elsewhere mostly light, mostly to margins), three small corner creases, one small corner chip, browning plus tear to tissue guard, untrimmed (exposed) edges with usual bumping, browning, creasing, nicks and wear. Endpapers with usual foxing/offsetting; paper split along front endpaper hinge, partly along rear hinge (both hinges holding well). Edges of page block with foxing (intruding into margins). Binding somewhat loose, slightly splayed, with slight lean. Boards and spine with scratching, discoloration and marks as shown, bumping, rubbing and wear to extremities; cloth worn through slightly to one corner, and with small tears to head of spine.

Lot details
Number of Books
Art Nouveau, Children's books, Illustrated, Literature
Author/ Illustrator
Charles Kingsley / W. Heath Robinson
Book Title
The Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby
Publication year oldest item
1st Edition Thus
Original language
Constable & Company Limited, London
Binding/ Material
First edition, with 8 colour plates + over 100 drawings
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