Under an Elm-Tree


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[003576] Morris, William. Under an Elm-Tree; or Thoughts in the Country-side. Aberdeen: James Leatham, 1891. Second Edition. 16mo. Paper Covers. Pamphlet. Good. 16pp, original* paper covers, stitched as issued

Covers lightly browned to edges, tiny nick to fore edge of lower wrapper, text browned, otherwise clean

*Spurious wrappers added by Buxton Forman, he notes that “it was sold without a wrapper; but special copies are occasionally found with a pale green printed wrapper added” (Buxton Forman, page 163). Barker and Collins in A Sequel to An Enquiry┬ástate that “in a note accompanying his [Forman’s] copy he makes clear that he did the adding: ‘Mr Leatham issued the pretty little pamphlet without any wrapper. Having bought a small parcel of copies for myself and friends, I had 50 wrappers printed as nearly in the style of the pamphlet as I could manage’ … No other copy besides this (Sold at Sotheby’s, 12 April 1972, lot 259) is known … Conclusion: A chimaera, with a false wrapper” (Barker and Collins, page 212)

LeMire adds that so far “one copy only has been found … and that copy was Forman’s, included in the Solomon sale. The fact that others have not surfaced may be accounted for by the fact that James Leatham, printer and publisher of the original pamphlet, lived on until 1945 and would have been both able and willing to denounce any such manufactured rarity” (LeMire, page 365)

Barker in his (unpublished) Unrecorded Bibliography of William Morris, notes that “a certain issue of ‘Under An Elm Tree’ is a veritable curiosity. It is an attempt to exactly imitate the ‘editio princeps’ and is even now on the market as such. I have a letter from Mr Leatham declaring it a forgery” (Barker, page 8). Unfortunately no further details are given, so it is not clear whether he is talking about this edition with the spurious wrapper. A picture of the wrapper together with a rejected proof of the wrapper (loosely inserted in the Solomon copy) is shown in John Collins’ essay on Forman and Morris in The Book Collector, Winter 1972. It is perhaps of note that the false wrapper is on the version that LeMire denotes ‘B’ (ie. without the Reeves advert)

Only the fifth known copy, after the one mentioned above and others sold by us in our Catalogue XIII and elsewhere and the last one I have

LeMire A-56.02; Buxton Forman 131 (showing the cover without the Reeves advert); Stammhammer III:238.9