Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Lives of the Saints

It's hard not to enjoy the 'lives of the saints': a collection of tales as madcap, moving, mythical and magical as anything ever written as fiction, they have a genre all of their own. The classic is, of course, the vast work by Alban Butler but he was then followed by numerous others, among whom the great Victorian man-of-all-writing The Rev'd Sabine Baring-Gould ought to have a mention. This book though, is getting a blog post more because of it's cover. This, and its companion volumes were published in 1904 which is after the death of Joseph Gleeson White but it is certainly in his style and is published by the company for whom he was a designer during the 1890s. But there is more of a connection than just a stylistic one. The book is by Mrs Arthur Bell, who also wrote under the name Nancy d'Anvers and who was resident in Christchurch contemporaneously with both Gleeson White and Frederick Rolfe, in fact, she gets a mention in the bibliography of Rolfe because it is thought that Rolfe helped her with suggestions and corrections to her book on Rome. In case it's not clear from the scan above this is the upper board of the book and the design is stamped onto white cloth in both red and gilt: a very attractive thing.

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