On this Fine Press Friday!

    This week we present Lavengro; The Scholar, The Gipsy, The Priest, by English writerGeorge Borrow (1803-1881). Illustrated with sixteen color lithographs and pen drawings by English book illustrator, painter, designer, typographer, and lithographer, Barnett Freedman (1901-1958), the edition, designed by Oliver Simon, was printed at the Curwen Press in London for The Limited Editions Club in 1936 in an edition of 1500 copies signed by the artist.

    Lavengro was first published in London by John Murray in 1851. It is an autobiographical novel, Borrow began writing in 1842 and finished with a text that included fictional episodes that are inseparable from his genuine life experience. It was met with mixed reviews because of the mixture of fact and fiction, however it has become recognized as a classic in 19th-century English literature.

    Barnett Freedman, who produced the lithographs and pen-drawn illustrations for this edition, worked for the London publisher Faber and Gwyer where he illustrated many books. His first large commission was Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, published in 1931, which provided him some notoriety. George Macy, founder of the Limited Editions Club, commissioned Freedman to provide the illustrations for Lavengro, which marked a new phase of his work with its bright rainbow palette. He also developed a technique for black and white line drawings printed in line block to imitate lithography, which created uniformity in the book. George Macy was so impressed with Freedman’s work that he would later commission him to illustrate several other books including Henry the Fourth Part One from The Plays of William Shakespeare in Thirty-Seven Volumes (1939-40) and Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1938) and Anna Karenina (1951). The latter two were recognized as some of the finest book design of the twentieth century.  

    For George Macy’s Heritage Press, which often reprinted classics by the more exclusive Limited Editions Club, Freedman illustrated Dickens Oliver Twist (1939), Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (1941), and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1942). Freedman’s illustrations for Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are regarded among the best done for those titles.

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    -Teddy, Special Collections Graduate Intern.