Love is Enough
Illustrated by Beatrice Pagden
Introduced by J. A. Underwood
Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies.
Introductory note by John Bidwell
Meticulously produced facsimile of William Morris’s poetic masterpiece. Illustrated on every page and fully bound in leather blocked in gold.
Housed in The Morgan Library & Museum in New York is a rarely seen jewel of Arts and Crafts book production – a personalised copy of William Morris’s poetic masterpiece Love is Enough, hand-illustrated on every page with vibrant floral watercolours by Beatrice Pagden and strikingly bound by the legendary Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson for its original owner, Morris’s publisher and confidant, Frederick Startridge Ellis.
Every element of this unique volume has now been recreated for the first time in our meticulous facsimile: the fresh colours of the beautiful illustrations, the luxurious binding (including the tiny signature, 18 C-S 87, that is blocked on the doublure), and even the feel of its pages. The result is a breath-taking combination of text, illustration and case that perfectly embodies Morris’s vision of the ‘beautiful book’.
William Morris (1834–1896) was the greatest artist-craftsman of his age, a tireless advocate of the virtues of the handmade and a reviver of lost traditions from calligraphy to manuscript illumination, tapestry and hand-printing. He is best known today for his iconic designs for wallpaper and fabrics, but during his lifetime he was held in even higher regard for his achievements as a writer: as a translator of Icelandic, Greek and Latin literature; a pioneer of science fiction and fantasy; and, above all, as a poet of the same standing as Browning and Tennyson.
Love is Enough is Morris’s most ambitious and intricate poem. It tells the tale of Pharamond, a legendary Frankish king, whose recurring dream-visions of his true love prove so disturbing that he abandons his throne and embarks on a desperate, and possibly futile, quest to find her.
As an adult, Morris’s daughter, May, could remember her nine-year-old self listening ‘with delight and awakening curiosity’, as Morris read his work-in-progress to friends and family. Its elaborate interweaving of five different metrical systems, including non-rhyming alliterative passages by which Morris single-handedly reinvented a neglected early English verse form, led one contemporary reviewer to describe Love is Enough as ‘an almost perfect poetry’.
Inspired by medieval dramas, Morris presents the central story of Pharamond as a morality play, acted out before an unnamed Emperor and Empress, who are themselves watched by a crowd of loyal subjects. These nested narratives are punctuated in turn by lyrical passages described as ‘The Music’, and appearances by a personification of Love itself in a variety of guises.
Facsimile of a unique copy of a first edition held at The Morgan Library & Museum, New York (PML 77075, gift of John A. Saks, 1981). Abundant floral illustrations by Beatrice Pagden. Original binding commissioned from Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson replicated in cowhide blocked in gold on front, back, spine and doublures. Five raised bands. Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies and 20 lettered copies which are not for sale.
Facsimile bound by hand by Richard Mayer in Esslingen-Zell, Germany, and printed by Memminger Mediencentrum, Memmingen, Germany, on Natural Evolution paper.
An introductory note, newly commissioned from John Bidwell, Astor Curator of Printed Books and Bindings at The Morgan Library & Museum, accompanies each facsimile. The note has been printed on Zerkall Bütten by Memminger Mediencentrum. Slipcase bound in teal Baronesse cloth blocked in gold. 152 pages. Book size 9˝ × 5¾˝