Friday, November 9, 2012

Mourning a Prince

A title page for "Three Elegies," showing light text on a dark background.Four hundred years ago this week, Henry, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, died at the age of 18. The death of the popular prince, which cleared the way for the later ascension of his younger brother Charles I, was met with a great show of public grief. One slender volume in our collection, Three Elegies on the Most Lamented Death of Prince Henrie (London: William Welbie, 1613) by Cyril Tourneur, John Webster, and Thomas Heywood, shows the depth of mourning through its very printing.

An open book, the left side entirely dark and the right printed with text.
The book's title page expresses loss by inverting the usual woodcut printing process to print white text on black. But the printers carried the grief throughout the book by alternating pages printed in black opposite each page of text. The dark ink on each verso bleeds through the paper so the text rests on a somber, dark background.

An open book, both pages filled in with ink.
Between the elegies, a period of sorrow is enforced by two-page spreads of black.

For a moment of reflection and grief, ask for Rare PR1195.E5T68 1613.

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