Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2. Recollections of Oscar Wilde

A new edition of Ricketts's Recollections of Oscar Wilde is for sale in the shop of the Victoria and Albert Museum during the exhibition The Cult of Beauty. The original edition was published in Bloomsbury by The Nonesuch Press on 21 July, 1932, set and printed by George W. Jones at the Dolphin Press in 800 copies on Van Gelder paper. It was bound in full white buckram, gilt with a geometric and figurative design by Ricketts, reminiscent of his famous design for The Sphinx. The white cloth binding was protected by a black paper wrapper. In Prospectus and Retrospectus of the Nonesuch Press 1932 it was announced as a 'tenebrous Memoir of Oscar Wilde, which he finished last year only a little before he died'. Ricketts had died on 7 October, 1931.

The new facsimile edition states that it reprints the book 'for the first time'. However, in 1969 there was an earlier one, published at Folcroft, PA, by the Folcroft Press. But as Ricketts's recollections of Wilde have been quoted over and over, the book surely merits another reprint. It is not yet listed on the website of the publisher, Pallas Athene (*), but a prospectus mentions the ISBN 978 1 84368 0710 and the price of £19.99. At the V&A the price is £12.99. The paper cover reproduces Ricketts's original binding design. (The 1932 edition is offered by book dealers for anything between £120 and £300.) The Pallas Athene edition includes a well-informed new afterword ('Ricketts and Wilde') by Matthew Sturgis, author of  Aubrey Beardsley. A Biography and of Passionate Attitudes. The English Decadence of the 1890s.

(*) See the website of Pallas.