McGrath, Raymond H. (1903 - 1977)
Seven Songs of Meadow Lane
A book of poetry and woodcuts. Sydney : printed in the handpress of J. T. Kirtley, 1924. Small folio, papered boards over vellum, woodcut title label, a couple of very minor spots but very good, minor signs of a removed bookplate to front pastedown, pp. , illustrated with 6 original woodcuts, each signed and numbered by the artist plus 4 woodcut decorations, printed on Japanese vellum. Limited to 30 copies. Presentation copy, inscribed ‘To Walter de la Mare from a remote friend of Henry Brocken. Gladesville 1926’. While John Kirtley and Jack Lindsay printed most of the contents, they left for England before the job was completed, and sold the press and type of McGrath who printed the last few pages himself. The wonderful modernist binding is by Wal Taylor. McGrath was born in Gladesville, Sydney, and left Australia for the U.K. in 1926.
A fine presentation copy from McGrath to the famous English poet Walter de la Mare, referencing his work Henry Brocken, first published 1904 and republished in later editions. Henry Brocken “hovers strangely between the abstract and the particular. Brocken sets out on an allegorical journey to various booklands, where he meets characters like Jane Eyre, Nick Bottom, Sleeping Beauty and Criseyde; but the mild educational benignity of the trip is destroyed, in the end, by Brocken’s refusal of Criseyde’s erotic needs, and he is cast back, defeated, into a dry mortality.” – Clute and Grant, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, p. 261.
McGrath ” … studied painting at the Julian Ashton School, bookbinding with Walter Taylor, as well as executing his first etchings; at a later stage he studied modelling withRayner Hoff. This combination of literature and art was to become a hallmark of his graphic work.’ – BUTLER, Roger. Raymond McGrath Prints. Deutsher Galleries and National Library of Australia, 1979.
Of the edition of 30 copies, 8 are held in Australian public collections, with further examples located at the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington and The British Library, London. This is the only example recorded at auction in the past 40 years (source: Rare Book Hub). Very rare.
Walter de la Mare, presentation copy from the artist
Australian Book Auctions, Books and Documents, 6 May 2008, lot 631
Private collection, Sydney