Ernest Rhys was involved in a wide range of literary activities, as editor, poet, playwright, essayist and fiction writer. He was born in London but raised in the coal-mining town of Newcastle. Uninspired by working in his father’s wine business, he entered the literary world. In 1906, Rhys became the first editor of Everyman’s Library under the publisher Joseph Dent, a series of affordable editions of classics from world literature. Rhys fervently believed in the transformative power of knowledge and that education and political freedom went hand in hand, and it was his mission to make great literature accessible to a wide range of people.
Sangorski & Sutcliffe was a London firm specializing in fine bindings, renowned for their creativity and craftsmanship. It was founded by Francis Sangorski (1875-1912) and George Sutcliffe (1878-1943) in 1901, five years after they met as students at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. There they studied under Douglas Cockerell, and then worked for him for three years before setting up their own business. Sangorski’s brother Alberto joined the firm as an illuminator, and became a prominent practitioner of the craft. Sangorski & Sutcliffe became known for elaborate bindings embedded with precious and stones and jewels, but also produced a variety of other types. After Francis Sangorski’s death, Sutcliffe ran the firm himself. He also trained his nephew, Stanley Bray (1907-1995) who inherited the company in 1943 and continued working there until 1985. In 1988, the company merged with the Zaehnsdorf bookbinding firm to form SSZ Ltd., which still operates in London.
Condition: Contents generally very good with only minor overall toning and wear. Covers very good and sound, spines irregularly faded to varying tones of brown, few volumes with lightly rubbed joints. Slipcase with some abrasion, fading, abrasions, soiling, but sound.
“An Historical Profile: Sangorski & Sutcliffe and Zaehnsdorf.” Skin Deep: The Biannual Newsletter from J. Hewitt & Sons Ltd. Spring 1998, Vol. 5. http://www.hewit.com/sd5-ssz.htm (30 August 2004).
“Blissful Books and Bindings: Sangorski & Sutcliffe.” George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archive, Bowdoin College. 2004. http://library.bowdoin.edu/arch/exhibitions/Bliss/SanSut.shtml (30 August 2004).
Myers, Alan. “Ernest Rhys.” Myers Literary Guide to North-East England. 2004. http://online.northumbria.ac.uk/faculties/art/humanities/cns/m-rhys.html (30 August 2004).