Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1895. Morris, William. Quarto, original limp vellum with pale green silk ties (two broken ties laid in), gilt lettering to spine. "Note to Reader" slip laid in. Lightest pinpoint foxing to first and last leaves only. Housed in a custom slipcase. Peterson A32; Tinker, 104. Item #100103
A unique presentation copy of the Kelmscott Beowulf, one of only 300 copies printed on Perch paper, inscribed by translator A.J. Wyatt to his wife Catherine. Type, woodcut borders, and decorative initials designed by Kelmscott founder William Morris; chapter headings and marginal notes printed in red. The only Anglo-Saxon epic to survive complete in manuscript, Beowulf did not see print until the nineteenth century: the poem's heroic scale, vivid wordplay, and origins in spoken narrative made it a natural choice for Morris, appealing to his love of the archaic and vernacular. Anglo-Saxon scholar Wyatt provided Morris with a literal prose translation of the Beowulf text, which Morris then "rhymed up" in imitation of the Old English meter. "To Beowulf now / Was the battle-fame given; should Grendel thenceforth / Flee life-sick awayward and under the fen-bents / Seek his unmerry stead: now wist he more surely / That ended his life was, and gone over for ever, / His day-tale told out." A fine copy of a landmark of English fine press printing, with excellent provenance.