The Song of Songs

Illustrated by Eric Gill

A classic from the Fine Press tradition. Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies. Published in series with Genesis and The Book of Jonah.

Published price: US$ 150.00

Limited to 750 copies of which at least 500 are available in sets with matching limitation numbers with Genesis and The Book of Jonah

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The Song of Songs

The Song of Songs is the most sensual book of the Bible, an often explicit dialogue between two devoted lovers. This 1925 edition was Gill’s first major work for the Golden Cockerel Press, his earliest attempt to illustrate a biblical narrative, and an ideal vehicle for his unique religious and erotic interests.

Art must be allowed to express the life of the senses as well as the life of the spirit...'
Eric Gill

To pre-empt accusations that he was doing ‘something outside and apart from Catholic authority’, Gill insisted on using the Douai-Rheims translation of the text, favoured by the Catholic Church. The text was then recast as a play by Gill’s close friend, Father John O’Connor, who split it into four acts and gave it a strong moral message, praising the pure monogamy of the girl and her lover. In spite of these efforts, the blatant eroticism of Gill’s engravings provoked controversy, and led to accusations that The Song of Songs was an immoral, vulgar book. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the edition of 750 copies proved extremely successful, and The Song of Songs is now seen as a landmark in Gill’s evolution as a religious artist and in the development of his intense and fruitful relationship with the Golden Cockerel Press.

Published in series with The Book of Jonah and Genesis.

Production Details

The Song of Songs book

44 pages, set in Caslon type, with 19 wood-engravings by Eric Gill. Bound in oatmeal cloth blocked in gold on the spine. Taupe paper dust wrapper, printed in black ink, and featuring an illustration by the artist in facsimile of the original. Reproduced from the first edition, this book has been printed on Corolla Book Laid Ivory paper in black ink with some letters picked out in red.


Accompanying the facsimile is an essay by Sebastian Carter, formerly of the Rampant Lions Press, now editor of Parenthesis, the Journal of the Fine Press Book Association. This specially commissioned piece gives essential background to the original publication and is printed in Caslon on Corolla Book Laid Ivory paper.


The solander presentation box is covered in dark green Wibalin paper and lined with a paler green Surbalin paper. The front and spine are blocked in gold foil and the front board is inset with a title label printed in black with an illustration by Eric Gill on Corolla Book Laid Ivory paper.

About Eric Gill

Eric Gill (1882–1940) was the greatest artist-craftsman of the twentieth century, a master of wood engraving, stone sculpture and letter design. He is also a divisive figure, whose work combined his religious and erotic preoccupations in ways that remain controversial today. Gill abandonded initial training as an architect to work as a letter cutter, monumental mason and sculptor. In 1913, Gill converted to Catholicism, becoming a lay member of the Dominican order and adopting the monastic habit, and went on to create a series of religious and artistic communities. Among his most famous works are the stone panels of the Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral, the exterior carvings on BBC Broadcasting House, and the instantly recognisable typefaces Perpetua and Gill Sans.

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