Sims Reed Rare Books×

Dylan Thomas. Collected Poems 1934 - 1952

Richards, Ceri. Dylan Thomas

London. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. 1953
An extraordinary work of sympathy, empathy and synchronicity: Ceri Richards' ink illuminations to the poems of Dylan Thomas - with the beautiful painted dust-jacket - undertaken while the poet was dying.

Presented by the artist Ceri Richards to the important collector and patron Sir Colin Anderson and his wife Morna, this beautiful book represents a remarkable and harmonious appreciation of the great poet Dylan Thomas by his fellow countryman. Drawing on major themes in Thomas' verse, themes that were also of profound importance to Richards' own oeuvre, the artist has created drawings on 42 of the leaves of the book and has supplied a dust-jacket covered entirely with original work. For the jacket's front panel Richards has drawn a superbly evocative portrait of the poet at work, his left profile to the fore, his right hand busy in the act of writing and transforming into the stem of a flowering plant; Thomas' gaze leads over the spine covered with leaves and flowers sprouting from his pen to a stalking heron against a cloud-filled bright blue sky and beyond to birds in flight sweeping through the sky before Thomas' own house on the bay in Laugharne.

Richards’ presentation, in black ink to the front free endpaper, reads as follows: ‘CSA [Sir Colin Skelton Anderson 1904 - 1983] & MCA [Morna Campbell McCormick Anderson 1906 - 1982] from Ceri [Ceri Giraldus Richards 1903 - 1971] & Frances [Frances Richards née Clayton 1903 - 1985] / Xmas 1953’.

Richards is known to have illuminated four copies of poems by Dylan Thomas, all at a very similar date in November 1953, just before Thomas’ death and during his final days (Thomas died on November 9th, 1953 in New York). The copies he is known to have illuminated include those for his wife, Frances; a copy he sold to Swansea Central Library in March 1954; a copy he gave to his sister Esther Thomas (no relation to the poet); the copy - now misplaced or lost - belonging to the Hon. Mrs. Lucille Frost. This example, that of Sir Colin Anderson, was unknown previously; the copy also includes three letters: two from Ceri Richards (in 1953 and 1966 respectively) to Anderson with details of the volume and a third from Frances Richards (in 1973) to Anderson after the artist’s death. These letters add additional detail to the history of all of the illuminated copies and the provenance of the present example.

Please contact us for full details of the book, drawings and letters and for further images.

[see Richard Burns' 'Ceri Richards and Dylan Thomas: Keys to Transformation', London, The Enitharmon Press, 1981].
pp.xiv, 178. 8vo. (220 x 146 mm). Presentation from Ceri Richards to front free endpaper (see below), half-title with illumination in black and blue inks, portrait frontispiece on glossy paper with painting by Augustus John and with Richards' manuscript note 'Died November 9 1953 / New York.' in blue ink, title with elaborate drawing by Richards in black and blue inks and copyright verso, leaf with Thomas' dedication 'To Caitlin' and elaborate drawing in black ink of Thomas' wife Caitlin, 'Note' with drawn frame verso, two leaves with Thomas' 'Foreword' with elaborate illumination, two leaves with list of contents with those poems illuminated by Richards with asterisks and Thomas' verse, all with illumination, highlighting and annotation in black and blue inks throughout by Ceri Richards. Original publisher's blue cloth, titles gilt to spine, supplied dust-jacket (see below) with elaborate signed painting in ink and watercolour over covers and flaps by Ceri Richards with his manuscript title and text in black ink: Homage to Dylan Thomas / Ceri Richards 1953 November', top edge stained red.

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