FROISSART, Jean (ca 1333 - ca 1410). Here begynnith the first volum of Syr John Froissart: o[f the Cro]nycles of Englande, France, Spayne, Portyngale, Scotlande, Bretaine, Flannders: and other places adioynynge. Translated from French into English by John Bourchier, second Baron Berners (1467-1533). London: [R. Redman ca 1535, and] "Wyllyam Myddylton", ; Here begynneth the thirde and fourthe boke of Sir John Froissart of the cronycles of Englande.... [London: Richard Pinson, 1525].
2 volumes in one, 2o (320 x 224 mm). Collation: Volume one: A6, B4 [A1r title-page with three woodcut border-pieces and initial A1v woodcut arms of Henry VIII, A2r translator's preface, A3r-B3r table of contents, B4v blank], a-u6, aa-uu6, aaa-nnn6 ooo4 [text, ooo4r colophon "Thus endeth the firste volume of Sir Johan Froissart: of the cronycles of England...," verso blank]. (Title-page and A2 re-margined affecting some text in the top right-hand corner which has been supplied in facsimile following Marsh's 1563 edition, some other margins with small repairs only crossing the text at o5, numerous worm holes.) Volume two: a8 [1r title-page with woodcut historiated border, verso woodcut arms of Henry VIII, 2r preface, 2v table, 8v blank], A-U6 AA-UU6 AAA-NNN6 OOO8 [text, 3O8r colophon, verso blank]. (Some margins repaired only crossing the text at P5, P6, and 3F5, 3O7 extensively repaired with much text in facsimile, 3O8 a facsimile of Marsh's colophon from the second edition of 1563: "Richard Pinson... " 1525, numerous worm holes.) Unwatermarked paper, black letter, 54 lines, double column, woodcut initials. 19th -century red morocco gilt extra by W. Pratt (extremities a bit scuffed). Provenance: William Horatio Crawford (bookplate; his sale Sotheby's London, 12 March 1891, lot 1286); William Morris (1824-1896) English designer, author, visionary socialist and founder of the Kelmscott Press (bookplate; his sale Sotheby's London, 7th December 1898, lot 535); James W. Ellsworth (1849-1925), owner of a Gutenberg Bible, now Scheide's, and of the four Shakespeare folios, who sold his collection to Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach (bookplate); Harold Douthit (bookplate).
"JEAN FROSSIART HAS GIVEN ME AT LEAST AS MUCH PLEASURE AS HE DID TO ANY ONE OF THE LORDS, LADIES, KNIGHTS, SQUIRES, AND SERGEANTS WHO FIRST HEARD HIM READ" (Morris, recorded by Robert Steel)
Second edition of volume one with b1r reading "kyng in his be" and b2r reading "lytell hakeneys," FIRST EDITION of volume two with A1r reading "baylye." FROM THE LIBRARY OF WILLIAM MORRIS, with his Hammersmith library label on the front paste down, whose admiration for Froissart, and Berner's translation in particular, was evident from his earliest attempts at poetry as a student while at Oxford in the late 1850s, and in his Defence of Guenevere, 1858. Towards the end of his life Morris returned to Froissart intending to publish the Chronicles as a companion to his magnum opus the Kelmscott Chaucer: "You cannot have a better text than old Berners's. It's fine old English and would take a lot of beating... my reprint is full folio and will take up two volumes. I also intend to publish it in four parts. Those who may like a strong binding will be able to get one for both the Chaucer as well as the Froissart. It will be in white pigskin... no book that I could do would give me half the pleasure I am getting from the Froissart. I am simply revelling in it. It's such a noble and glorious work, and every page as it leaves the press delights me more than I can say." (Morris, Ideal Book, pp 111-112). In the event only sixteen pages of the Kelmscott Froissart were printed (and given to personal friends) before Morris's death, the Chaucer having taken precedence. Morris used a later and less valuable edition of the text, published by Rivington in 1812, to prepare these sheets, and that copy is now in the library at Kelmscott Manor.
"WILLIAM MORRIS POSSESSED A LIBRARY OF HIGHER QUALITY THAN ANY OTHER MAJOR ENGLISH LITERARY FIGURE" (Needham). Several partial catalogues exist compiled by Morris, his daughter Jenny, and from 1892 until Morris's death by Sydney Cockerell. Attempts were made to buy the library en bloc by Fairfax Murray, the Rylands library, many other eminent collectors and booksellers alike. The library was eventually bought for £18,000 by Pickering & Chatto on behalf of one Richard Bennett. He kept only about a third of the library, the rest was sold at Sotheby's in December 1898. Two editions of Froissart were sold at that sale, this one ("vol. I made up from Pynson's edition, title and next leaf mended, with some lines in facsimile; vol II wormed, corners of last 7 leaves mended, last leaf in facsimile...(Lakelands copy) RARE..."), which the Times report of the sale published on 7 December 1898 records as having sold for £24 to Maine; and a Paris edition of 1530 bound in "pigskin stamped in arabesques." Needham "William Morris: Book Collector," in William Morris and the Art of the Book; Sparling 46; Morris/Steel Defence of Guenevere 1904, p. 147; STC 11396.5 and 11397.