LIFE OF KING HENRY V. The Arden Text, edited by Herbert Arthur Evans; With a General Introduction by Mr. Evans and a Special Prefatory Note by Mark Van Doren
LIFE OF KING HENRY V. The Arden Text, edited by Herbert Arthur Evans; With a General Introduction by Mr. Evans and a Special Prefatory Note by Mark Van Doren

LIFE OF KING HENRY V. The Arden Text, edited by Herbert Arthur Evans; With a General Introduction by Mr. Evans and a Special Prefatory Note by Mark Van Doren

(New York: Eastern Printing Corporation for The Limited Editions Club, 1951).

A FINE COPY AND THE FIRST EDITION WITH THESE ILLUSTRATIONS. A cornerstone--and some would say foundation--of English literature.
More then just celebrating one of the most charismatic monarchs in British history, King Henry V is widely recognized as Shakespeare’s most patriotic play. For in its themes, actions and characters, it not only celebrates a sense of Englishness, but it extolls, as shown most clearly with his four captains, how Henry manages to unite the Welsh, Scottish and Irish under one unified leadership as well. Further, Henry not only appeals to the commonalities between all of the soldiers of all of the lands he rules, but also between soldiers of different classes, transforming his disparate troops into ‘a band of brothers’. In doing so Henry has managed to create a form of equality between noble and commoner, and between Englishman, Welshman and Scott under a sort of common umbrella of Englishness as Henry refers to ALL of them as “Noblest English”.
The verse found within the play resounds with the rhetoric of nationalistic fervor. It is the very essence of a “Boys Own” adventure story; full of fighting scenes, and victories by sadly depleted, underfed, and highly stressed forces against insurmountable odds. It is a story to stir the blood, and is filled with patriotic speeches that are strangely reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s speeches during World War II. The play is often performed for patriotic intent, most often to raise morale among the people during wartime, such as in its first major (and extremely successful) film adaptation directed by, and starring, Laurence Olivier. It is a colourful and highly stylised version which begins in the Globe Theatre and then gradually shifts to a realistic evocation of the Battle of Agincourt.  Olivier's film was made during the Second World War and was intended as a patriotic rallying cry at the time of the invasion of Normandy. It was Churchill’s government who funded the movie in order to dedicate it to the RAF pilots, with the idea being that just like Henry and his men going into the Battle of Agincourt, the pilots were up against insurmountable odds but would bravely overcome them. In fact, Churchill even used some of Henry’s dialog in his own speech to the RAF. The illustrations in this particular edition appear here for the first time and are based upon the film that Olivier directed and starred in.

References: William Shakespeare. King Henry V. ed. by T.W. Craik Routledge, 1995: Shakespeare’s Globe Education, Henry V Character Studies, The Shakespeare Globe Trust: Literature Network Forums, The patriotism of Shakespeare in Henry V, 2005: Sonková, Markéta Propaganda on Screen: Adapting Shakespeare’s Henry V, 2017: The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's History Plays By Cambridge University Press, 2002. Item #31140

First of the Edition, First with the Kredel Illustrations from paintings. Limited and Numbered. This copy with the prospectus and the letter describing the book and its production. Illustrated with tipped-on reproductions in colours of paintings by Fritz Kredel based upon the film version of the play created by Sir Laurence Olivier. Folio, publisher's original English crushed buckram, the spine lettered in gilt, the upper cover with decorations in gilt from a drawing by Kredel based upon Henry V's coat of arms, which is composed of rampant lions and fleurs-de-lys. Housed in the the original slipcase. xxxi, 157, [1] pp. A very fine copy, as pristine, unopened and near as mint but for a bit of edge wear and mellowing to the slipcase.

Price: $150.00