London: George Routledge & Sons, . Oblong quarto, measuring 8.5 x 10 inches: . Original red cloth spine, pale green color-printed pictorial boards, all edges stained red, deep blue coated endpapers. Half-title and title page printed in brown ink. Color-printed wood engravings by Edmund Evans after watercolors by Greenaway on each page, printed on rectos only. Ink presentation inscription on half-title, framed by three sketches of young girls: “Joan Ponsonby from Kate Greenaway / 1891.” Lightest shelfwear and occasional smudge to binding. Housed in a custom chemise and slipcase.
First edition, the Grolier 100 copy, inscribed by Kate Greenaway with three original sketches of young girls. First published in the eighteenth century, the ABC rhyme “The Tragical Death of A Apple Pye” appeared in countless chapbooks before Greenaway produced this colorful large-format edition. Her vibrant illustrations depict a crowd of children in Regency dress tussling over the oversized pie of the title. Finally, in Greenaway’s original closing rhyme, “U V W X Y Z / All had a large slice / and went off to bed.” A Apple Pie was a resounding popular success, although the book caused some tension between Greenaway and her friend John Ruskin, who disliked the stylized feet, “literal paddles and flappers,” of Greenaway’s children. Greenaway has inscribed this copy to Joan Ponsonby, born in 1887, the granddaughter of her close friends Gerald and Maria Ponsonby. The ink sketches of young girls that frame the gift inscription may be portraits of little Joan herself. Schuster & Engen, 1.1a; Grolier 100 Books Famous in Children's Literature, 50. A near-fine presentation copy of a Victorian classic, with original artwork by Kate Greenaway.