Twelfth Night: Illustrated by Eric Ravilious

ISBN: 9781851246243
Artist(s): Eric Ravilious
Author(s): William Shakespeare
Format: hardback
Year published: 25 April 2024
Publisher: Bodleian Library
Publisher Location: Oxford
Total Pages: 96
Illustrations: 79 colour illustrations


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Together with a newly commissioned introduction, this book includes a facsimile of one of Eric Ravilious’s finest illustrated works, first published by the Golden Cockerel Press in 1932 in a limited print run and now considered a masterpiece of typography and illustration. Artist and illustrator Eric Ravilious was fascinated with Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry and drama, both as literature and as visual inspiration. His playful wood engravings depict characters such as Viola, Sebastian, Sir Toby Belch and Malvolio in period costume on imaginary stages or in garden scenes.

Decorative borders and vignettes enliven the pages. The Golden Cockerel Press, owned by Robert Gibbings, himself an engraver, was famous for limited-edition, hand-printed books that benefited from the revival of wood engraving after the First World War. The introduction by Alan Powers tells how this edition, growing out of a wider Shakespeare revival, was nearly derailed by the consequences of the economic Depression and how the resourcefulness and determination of those involved with the Press brought about this extraordinary version of Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy.


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