Whitman, Sarah Wyman; Pyle, Howard. Hard Cover. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1893. First Edition. Near Fine.
Illustrated by Howard Pyle. First edition, first state, with "flashed" to p. 50. Publisher's decorative gray cloth stamped in metallic silver with a design by Sarah Wyman Whitman, green-coated endpapers, top edge silver. A near fine copy with some light wear to extremities, signature of author and editor Francis G. Walett to front free endpaper. Overall, a fresh copy in a beautiful binding. This collection of poetry includes three previously published works by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Dorothy Q (1874), one of Holmes's best-known poems, is a portrait of his maternal grandmother, celebrating her life through short, rhyming verse interlaced with humor and statements of great affection. The other two poems draw inspiration from local history of the Boston area, where Holmes was born and lived most of his life. One of the Fireside Poets, Holmes stands in literary history with other American poets associated with New England, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, and John Greenleaf Whittier. Sarah Wyman Whitman (1842-1904) was a renowned book artist and one of the most important binding designers during the golden age of illustration and publishers' use of decorative trade bindings. Along with her contemporaries Margaret Armstrong (1867-1944) and Alice Cordelia Morse (1863-1961), Whitman is an example of how the Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic movements provided new opportunities for women's employment in the arts during the turn of the 20th century. Her work appeared as early as 1884, and through 1887 she was one of the only professional artists who regularly created book cover designs. Although often unsigned, Whitman's work is easily distinguishable through her use of restrained Art Nouveau aesthetic, preference of gilt over color stamping and ornamentation, favor of light-colored binding cloths, and use of sans-serif, high-waisted typography. She is heavily associated with the publisher Houghton Mifflin. A pioneer in the field of designer publisher's bindings, Whitman was the first to carry a cover design across the spine and to the rear board. In addition to book design, Whitman was a talented creator of stained glass.