London: Sylvan Press, 1945. Single volume, measuring 9 x 6 inches: xxii, , 88. Original pictorial orange cloth stamped in gilt, ivory endpapers, original unclipped pictorial dust jacket. Introductory essays by George Rylands and Charles Williams, line drawings by Michael Ayrton throughout text. Ink inscription to front pastedown: “In appreciation of a kindness / 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.