The Water of the Wondrous Isles
KELMSCOTT PRESS. MORRIS, William. Water of the Wondrous Isles. Hammersmith: Sold by the Trustees of the late William Morris at the Kelmscott Press , 1897.
One of 250 copies on paper. Large quarto. 340 pp. Printed in red and black in Chaucer and Troy types. Double columns. Decorative woodcut borders and initials.

Full limp vellum with olive green silk ties, (one silk tie shortened and laid in). Spine lettered in gilt. An almost fine copy with a small previous owner's bookplate on front pastedown, minor bowing to the vellum and a bit of rubbing to the extremities. Overall, a near fine, clean and bright copy.

“The borders and ornaments were designed entirely by William Morris, except the initial words Whilom/ & Empty, which were completed from his unfinished designs by R. Catterson-Smith” (Colophon).

“Morris ‘began [his] new romance in verse’ on 4 February 1895, but on 8 February ‘after seeing B[urne]-J[ones] W.M. decided to write the new romance in prose & verse, & began to rewrite it’ (Cockerell diary). Eventually Morris wrote it in prose alone...In Cockerell’s diary we catch glimpses of the dying Morris attempting in vain to complete the design of the initial word ‘Empty’” (Peterson).

Clark Library, Kelmscott and Doves, pp. 54-55. Peterson A45. Ransom, Private Presses, p. 330, no. 45. Sparling 45. Tomkinson, p. 120, no. 45.

HBS # 67746 $6,000