SKU: BODS-102435

'In this beautifully produced edition, the play’s bittersweet mood is perfectly expressed in the texture and form of Ravilious’s wood engravings. His coloured images bring just the right tinge of melancholy to the comedy.' - Emma Smith

Together with a newly commissioned introduction, this book includes a facsimile of one of Eric Ravilious’s finest illustrated works, first published by the Golden Cockerel Press in 1932 in a limited print run and now considered a masterpiece of typography and illustration.

Artist and illustrator Eric Ravilious was fascinated with Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry and drama, both as literature and as visual inspiration. His playful wood engravings depict characters such as Viola, Sebastian, Sir Toby Belch and Malvolio in period costume on imaginary stages or in garden scenes. Decorative borders and vignettes enliven the pages.

The Golden Cockerel Press, owned by Robert Gibbings, himself an engraver, was famous for limited-edition, hand-printed books that benefited from the revival of wood engraving after the First World War. The introduction by Alan Powers tells how this edition, growing out of a wider Shakespeare revival, was nearly derailed by the consequences of the economic Depression and how the resourcefulness and determination of those involved with the Press brought about this extraordinary version of Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy.


Eric Ravilious (1903–1942) was a British painter, book illustrator and designer. He is known for his depictions of south-east England and also of urban scenes of the interwar period, and was an outstanding wood engraver. He died in the Second World War.

Alan Powers has published widely on twentieth-century design and architecture. He has curated numerous exhibitions, including an exhibition on Ravilious at the Imperial War Museum in 2003. He is the author of Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities (2003) and Eric Ravilious, Artist and Designer (2013).


  • Hardback
  • 96 pages, 267 x 194mm
  • ISBN 9781851246243
  • Publication April 2024

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