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Book Description

Full title: Poems of Youth. A Representative Selection of Verse from the Sixteenth, Seventeenth & Eighteenth Centuries, with Wood-Engravings by J.E. Bostock. Designed and Printed at the Medway School of Arts and Crafts.

JAMES BOSTOCK’S EARLIEST WOOD-ENGRAVED ILLUSTRATIONS, EXECUTED WHILE HE WAS STUDYING UNDER BAWDEN, RAVILIOUS, AND PAUL AND JOHN NASH AT THE RCA

Quarto (250 x 189mm), pp. 29, [1 (blank)], [2 (colophon, verso blank)]. Wood-engraved additional title, 8 wood-engraved illustrations in the text, 4 full-page, and one colophon design, all by and after Bostock. Title printed in black and light-blue inks. (A few light spots and marks.) Original blue cloth backed, paper covered boards, upper board with printed design by and after Bostock. (Some light spotting and marking, boards slightly bowed, extremities lightly rubbed.) Provenance: The Headmaster, Medway School of Arts and Crafts, Rochester (loosely-inserted printed compliments slip).
Dealer Notes
First and only edition. Poems of Youth collects pieces by Lord Byron, Colley Cibber, John Milton, William Shakespeare, and Edmund Spenser, and, as the colophon states, the volume was ‘[a]rranged and printed under the direction of Charles L. Pickering’, who was the head of the Printing Department at the Medway School of Arts & Crafts. This was one of a number of such volumes produced by Pickering’s students, and for this book the ‘[h]and composition & arrangement [was] by D. Godden’, while the machinework was ‘by A. Aslett, G. Hurworth and P. Sainsbury’. Poems of Youth is, however, particularly notable among the books produced by Pickering’s students for the eleven wood-engravings (including the cover illustration) by the youthful James Bostock (1917-2006).

Bostock was educated at the Medway School of Arts and Crafts between 1933 and 1936, before undertaking postgraduate studies at the Royal College of Art (1936-1939), where his tutors included Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, and John and Paul Nash. After a brief period working at the Civil Defence Camouflage Establishment at Leamington Spa in 1939, Bostock saw active service in North Africa and the Middle East, before returning to civilian life and taking up the position of Senior Lecturer in Art at Ealing School of Art in 1946, thus establishing a career as an educator which would continue in tandem until his retirement from academic life in 1978 (in this capacity he wrote Roman Lettering for Students, which was published by Studio Books in 1959). Throughout his academic career Bostock practised as an artist, exhibiting water-colours, etchings, wood engravings, and drawings in the UK and overseas, and he was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers in 1947, a Member of the Society of Wood Engravers in 1950, and became a full Member of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers in 1961.

Poems of Youth was printed while Bostock was still a student at the Royal College of Art, and these engravings constitute his earliest known wood-engravings – indeed, a signed proof of ‘L’Allegro’ (p. 18), is the first item in H. Chapman’s James Bostock: A Catalogue of the Wood Engravings and Other Prints (London, 2002) – and his first book illustrations. Although no edition statement is given, it seems likely that the print run of Poems of Youth was small, and it is a rare work (LibraryHubDiscover only locates two copies in UK institutional collections, at the University for the Creative Arts, the successor to the Medway School of Arts and Crafts, and the Bodleian Library, Oxford). Bostock’s association with Charles L. Pickering and the Medway School of Arts and Crafts continued after Poems of Youth was published, and the Victoria & Albert Museum holds a proof of one of a series of wood-engravings Bostock cut in 1946 for a projected (but unrealised) edition of 27 Selected Psalms to be published by the Medway School of Arts and Crafts. Some fifty years after Poems of Youth was published, Bostock would illustrate Edward Thomas’ These Things are also Spring’s with wood-engravings for the Folio Society in 1988, a publication in which, ‘[f]or the first time in many years the wood-engravings were printed directly from the wooden blocks’ (Folio 60, 616).
Author PICKERING, Charles L. (editor) and James Edward BOSTOCK (artist)
Date 1938
Publisher Rochester: Medway School of Arts and Crafts

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