The Most Ancient and Famous History of the Renowned Prince Arthur, King of Britaine
London: R. Wilks, 1816. Hardcover. Good. Item #21627
12mo. 3 volumes. xxiv -326; xvi -381; xvi 377pp. Engraved title pages in each volume. Engraved frontispiece of the Death of Sir Launcelot present in Volume 1, of the Parting of Tristan and Isolde in Volume 2, and of Prince Arthur Obtaining the Sword in Volume 3. The folding plate of the Round Table is also present in Volume 1.
Bound in full vellum, gilt titles, marbled endpapers, and the bindings signed by Roger De Coverly. Top edges gilt.
Light aging of the textblocks and soil to the vellum, boards yawning a bit from the pull of the vellum, gilt rubbed in places, else this is a very good set.
The Morte d'Arthur was first printed by Caxton in 1485 and was followed by editions in 1498, 1529, 1557 and 1634. Owing to the rise of the Commonwealth, stories of kings were generally suppressed; no further editions of the Morte d'Arthur were printed until 1816, which saw two editions of which this is one. Important edition, marking the start of modern interest in Arthuriana. By 1858, Thomas Wright was already describing this edition as rare. But it is, with the two volume 1816 edition, the earliest more or less easily obtainable edition of King Arthur available, though copies of the previous edition of 1634 occasionally come on the market.