The Duchess of Malfi. John Webster, Michael Ayrton, illustrator.

The Duchess of Malfi

London: Sylvan Press, 1945. Tall octavo, original pictorial orange cloth stamped in gilt, ivory endpapers, original unclipped pictorial dust jacket. Introductory essays by George Rylands and Charles Williams, black-and-white line drawings by Michael Ayrton throughout text. Ink inscription to front pastedown: “In appreciation of a kindness / Mary / November 1945." Lightest foxing to endpapers, occasional stray mark to jacket, tiny chips to corners.

Modern illustrated edition of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, first published in 1623, after a decade in performance on the Jacobean stage. Based on a true story, the tragedy recounts the entrapment and murder of a noble widow who secretly marries her servant, in defiance of her cruel brothers' wishes: “Tell my brothers, / That I perceive death, (now I am well awake) / Best guift is, they can give, or I can take." Trade edition, published simultaneously with the limited edition of 1000 copies signed by illustrator Michael Ayrton. A near-fine copy of a high spot of English Renaissance drama.

Price: $35.00

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