Golden Cockerel Press and stunning wood engravings by Blair Hughes-Stanton

Golden Cockerel Press was founded in 1920 and when Robert Gibbings took over in 1924 it developed into a key press focusing on the wood engraving revival. He had to sell the press in the 1930s as it was not paying its way and titles were then printed by Chiswick Press – 2oo titles in all were produced, nearly all featuring wood engravings.

Blair R Hughes-Stanton RA (London 22 February 1902 – 6 June 1981) was a major figure in the English wood engraving revival in the twentieth century, one of the most skilful ever. He was shot in the face during the war which damaged his sight so he could not do such detailed work afterwards As a PoW he produced false documentation for escape attempts using his skills.  This was his first title for the press, and he was chosen to illustrate the play by the author, who had seen his poster advertising it.  Hughes-Stanton and Gibbings argued over the printing of his engravings which, unlike those of Gill, had a lot of solid black areas in them. He insisted on getting involved in the printing of this title himself in the end.

He was friendly with D H Lawrence in the final years of his life, really a disciple,  and was much influenced in both his personal life and his art by Lawrence’s ideas on sexual liberation.

A very good article is available online with numerous images: Blair Hughes-Stanton and D. H. Lawrence The wood engraver and the priest of love by Jerry D. Meyer.  JOURNAL OF THE CAXTON CLUB VOLUME XXI, NO. 4 APRIL 2013

Maya: A Play by Simon Gantillon Paraphrased into English by Virginia & Frank Vernon with XIII Wood Engravings by Blair Hughes-Stanton.  Numbered 264 of a limited 500 copies. Slight shelf wear to binding with ghosting to endpapers. Book remains tightly bound with unmarked contents.

This is a plain looking book with absolutely stunning images, one of my favourite purchases so far.  The play centres on a prostitute Bella, and the string of customers visiting her, providing the background to a linked set of engravings.

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