London: Constable & Co., 1914. First edition. Frst issue. Publishers 'primary' binding of green cloth over boards, front cover pictorially stamped dark blue, gray, pink, tan and gilt. Spine pictorially stamped in gilt and colors, top stained dark green, others uncut. Corners very lightly bumped. Minimal foxing. Neat ink presentation dated 1920 on front free end-paper. Large quarto (11 3/16 x 8 5/8 inches; 284 x 222 mm). Collating xii, , 185, , [1, printer’s imprint]. Twelve color plates tipped onto cream mounts with beige rule borders and caption in beige at foot, with original tissue-guards. Forty-seven full-page (including title) and nineteen smaller black and white drawings in the text (the “List of Illustrations” lists thirty-two full-page black and white drawings). A Near Fine copy of a now very scarce Heath Robinson title.
“As with Twelfth Night, Heath Robinson set out to recreate the atmosphere of the play rather than to provide a pictorial record of the action, this time with a subject that gave him greater scope for his imagination. It is the black and white illustrations that dominate the book and they fall into two main groups, the woodland scenes and the drawings of the rustics. In the woodland scenes Heath Robinson has developed a decorative style of drawing foliage which was first used by Beardsley in a number of his drawings for The Savoy…Heath Robinson started to refine the technique in the drawings to Poe’s poems…In A Midsummer Night’s Dream the style is refined further and combined with solid black skies and strong foreground patterns of wild flowers or horse chestnut leaves to produce a series of drawings that have great depth and variety of texture. These provide the ideal setting for that ‘most wonderful moonlight night in fantasy’. In sharp contrast are the series of pictures of the rustic characters Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout and Starveling. They are drawn with great economy of line, with little or no supporting detail in the background…The coloured illustrations are very much an integral part of the book, providing variety of texture and tone, and if anything fulfil a supporting function in the overall scheme. With their subdued colouring and incidental subjects they add to the atmosphere of the book without becoming the focus of attention” (Beare).
Beare 77. Lewis 216. (Item #3766)