Sunday 4 December 2016

Shelley, the Queen Mary, and Agnes Pinder Davis

In the late 1920s, John Lane at the Bodley Head published 'The Helicon Series' of small poetry books, with new illustrations. They're pretty scarce these days, none less so than the edition of Shelley's Keats elegy, Adonais. The striking, Beardsleyesque illustrations are by Agnes Pinder Davis. She's a forgotten name now: light googling really only turns up this blog entry, which reveals the fabulous fact that she designed the carpet for the main lounge of the Queen Mary – but only after Duncan Grant's initial design was deemed too avant garde!

These quick snaps of her illustrations for Adonais don't do them justice. They work beautifully, and along with the slightly textured paper, rough cut page edges and simple boards design, make for a very special little volume.

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