The editor's introduction, dated 1897, together with an early owner's inscription dated 1898, indicates that this must be a very early, if not a first, edition. The book brings together works by two writers who, in their day, were enormously popular, particularly for their dramatic productions. Their position in the literary canon is neatly described thus: "Their plays ... are in spirit Jacobean; their songs are, with few exceptions, still Elizabethan." It is not clear which poems were written by which author, but the editor clearly admired both, and this little book gives a wide-ranging overview of their work.
Ernest Percival Rhys (1859–1946) was a Welsh-English writer, best known for his role as founding editor of the Everyman's Library series of affordable classics. On his own account he wrote essays, stories, poetry, novels and plays, but also edited many texts with considerable sensitivity and skill.
Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) was a dramatist in the English Renaissance theatre, most famous for his collaborations with John Fletcher.
John Fletcher (1579–1625) was a Jacobean playwright. Following William Shakespeare as house playwright for the King's Men, he was among the most prolific and influential dramatists of his day; during his lifetime and in the early Restoration, his fame rivalled Shakespeare's. Though his reputation has been far eclipsed since, Fletcher remains an important transitional figure between the Elizabethan popular tradition and the popular drama of the Restoration.
Our little book is in very nice condition for its age, bound in cream vellum covers enclosing the fore-edge and decorated on the front and spine with a gilt Art Nouveau-style border enclosing a double-line panel with title in gilt lettering. When first issued, there would have been a red ribbon-tie closure, but sadly only the slots for this remain. Inside, however, the red/gold silk page-marker is present. The exterior is generally in good condition for its age. Gilt page tops. Inside, the binding is tight with no loose pages; all pages clean and bright. Tissue-guarded frontispiece of Francis Beaumont is present, and the title page in red and black is in Art Nouveau style like the outer cover. Very faint signs foxing, mainly to end-papers. Fore and bottom edges rough-cut, and some pages remain uncut, and presumably unread. Ink-written gift inscription on front fep.