Kelmscott Press — Chaucerian Poems — Presentation Copy
Clanvowe, Thomas. The floure and the leafe, & The
boke of Cupide, god of love, or the cuckow and the nightingale. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press,
1896. 8vo (23.9 cm, 9.4"). , 47,  pp.
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Handsome Kelmscott printing of two medieval poems, offering a distinctive
representation of William Morris's neo-medieval aesthetic — this being one of the last Kelmscott
books to be seen by Morris in its completed state before his death. Both of these poems were
originally attributed to Chaucer: The first piece, a Middle English allegory of idle sensuality vs.
faithfulness in love, written in a woman's voice, was for hundreds of years believed to be
Chaucer's work, while the second piece, a debate between a cuckoo and a nightingale over the
nature of love, was actually written by a personal friend of Chaucer's and clearly bears his
influence. F.S. Ellis, Morris's publisher and collaborator and one of the executors of his estate,
edited the texts for this edition and inscribed this copy (see below).
This edition waslimited to 300 copies printed on paper, with an additional 10 on vellum. The black-letter text was set in Troy and printed in black and red; both poems begin
with oversized decorative capitals incorporating the first word of the text (reused here from the
Provenance: Front pastedown with bookplate of Willis Vickery, a prominent Cleveland
lawyer and bibliophile; front free endpaper with inked inscription: “To Miss Coleridge, with the
Editor's kind regards,” dated 1897, this being presumably the novelist and poet Mary Elizabeth
Coleridge. Great-grandniece of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, she lived in literary, social, and
political circles at least contiguous to Morris's; Ellis edited STC's poems for the Kelmscott Press
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Peterson, Kelmscott Press, A43; NSTC 0251764; Tomkinson, Modern
Presses, p. 118, no. 43. Publisher's blue-gray paper–covered boards with tan
cloth shelfback, front cover with title stamped in black; paper showing (typical) mild
discoloration primarily at edges, cloth and board edges lightly rubbed. Front pastedown with
bookplate and front free endpaper with inscription as above. Tip of one lower outer corner
lacking (possibly a paper flaw). A few instances of very faint spotting, pages otherwise clean.
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