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Daphnis & Chloe

One of my favourite aspects of work in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections is the opportunity to hold and examine so many wonderful and diverse books. When I was returning a book to the Quin Case a few days ago, I picked one out to look at because of its beautifully decorated spine – many of the books bequeathed to the College library by the wealthy graduate Henry Quin (1760-1805) have fine bindings. The boards, endpapers, fore-edge and text turned out to be equally attractive. The book in question was Quin 43, a 1786 printing of the story of Daphnis and Chloe, bound by Christian Samuel Kalthoeber of London. A German by birth, Kalthoeber emigrated to England where he became apprentice to his compatriot Johann Ernst Baumgarten, taking over his business in 1782.

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The origin of Daphnis and Chloe is somewhat of a mystery. It was probably written by someone called Longus, first name unknown, and it is assumed that he (or maybe she? I haven’t seen anything to suggest this, but we don’t know for sure) lived on the Greek island of Lesbos during the second century AD as that is where and when the novel is set. No other extant writings have been attributed to this author. It is a pastoral romance, the story of a girl and a boy, both abandoned at birth. Daphnis is discovered and fostered by a goatherd and Chloe by a shepherd. [Spoiler alert!] They grow up tending the flocks together and soon fall in love but, in their naivety, do not understand what is happening. After many (fairly unlikely) adventures, they are recognised by their birth parents, marry, and live happily ever after.

Jacques Amyot’s French version was printed in 1559, which brought the story to the attention of the wider world and, since then, it has been translated into many languages in both prose and verse; turned into operas, ballets, films and a radio play; and may also have influenced Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. We have a number of editions in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections, several of which are beautiful. It seems to be particularly popular with private presses, which generally produce attractive limited editions. Here is a selection:

In 1890 the firm founded in 1829 by David Nutt and run after his death in 1863 by his son, Alfred Trübner Nutt, produced a limited edition of 500 copies, unillustrated apart from a few unsigned woodcut ornaments. It is significant in that it reprints the first English translation, that of Angell Daye (fl. 1563–1595), originally printed in 1587, of which only one copy now survives (in the British Library). Nutt’s publication is edited by Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916), a prolific Australian writer and folklorist. The shelfmark of our copy is OLS X-4-122 (above).

The Ballantyne Press was begun by James Ballantyne (1772–1833), editor of the anti-radical newspaper The Kelso Mail, and his brother John (1774–1821), with some funding by Sir Walter Scott. Despite financial mismanagement, the press continued until 1916, producing some fine limited editions, including, in 1893, 210 copies of “the marvellous loves of Daphnis and Chloe by Longus”. Our copy (above) is at shelfmark OLS X-4-121. The text is ‘the translation by George Thornley Gentleman [born 1614] of the Greek original. The woodcuts drawn on the wood by Charles Ricketts from the designs by Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts have been engraved by both.’ The title page is very unexciting, but the others make up for this with at least one image or decorated initial on every opening. Charles Haslewood Shannon (1863-1937) was better known as a painter, but his career was ended abruptly when a fall while hanging a picture caused neurological damage resulting in amnesia and permanent disability. His partner, Charles de Sousy Ricketts (1866-1931) was a costume and set designer, working at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin on plays by both W. B. Yeats and J. M. Synge, as well as a book designer and typographer at the Vale Press, whose books were actually printed by the Ballantyne Press.

The Fin de Siècle Library edition of 1896 (shelfmark 81.n.59, above) consisted of 1,000 de luxe copies printed on specially manufactured hand-made paper (TCD’s copy is no.947) and 100 grand de luxe copies on finest Japanese Vellum. It is in English, translated from Amyot’s French “revised, edited and completed” by Paul Louis Courier (1773-1825). The preface is by Jules Claretie (1840-1913), Director of the Théâtre Français and elected Member of the Académie Française, but the translator is not named. The etchings are by Champollion from designs by Raphaël Collin (1850-1916).

David Geoffrey Bles (1886–1957) was a London publisher from 1923 until he sold his firm to William Collins (now part of HarperCollins) in 1953, although the imprint lived on until 1971. He read Classics at Merton College, Oxford, which might have influenced this publication choice. Our copy of his 1925 Daphnis & Chloe is at shelfmark 137.a.3 (above). The text is reprinted ‘verbatim et literatim from the edition of 1657′ by George Thornley, who also provides an Epistle Dedicatory ‘To young beauties’ and a note ‘To the critical reader’. The exquisite art deco illustrations are by the Englishman John Austen (1886-1948).

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Press B ASH 1933 1 (above) was printed and donated to the library by Charles Harold St. John Hornby (1867–1946), a founding partner of the stationery company W. H. Smith, at his Ashendene Press in Chelsea. It was unusual for this press to include wood-cut illustrations but this book contains a number of them, done by Gwendolen Mary Raverat (1885–1957), a granddaughter of Charles Darwin. The book was printed in an edition of 310 copies, of which 20 were on parchment and the rest on paper. The text is the French of Amyot (1513-1593), edited and corrected by Paul-Louis Courier (1772-1925), who is reputed to have spilled ink on the only existing manuscript, in Florence, of a page of Longus’s original.

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Another edition using the text by George Thornley ‘revised and augmented’ is OLS L-12-499 (above), the 1937 printing of 250 copies by Philippe Gonin of Paris for Anton Zwemmer (1892-1979), a Dutch bookseller who moved to London in 1914, specialising in art publications. In 1929 he opened an art gallery around the corner from his shop. According to the colophon, ‘Aristide Maillol engraved with his own hand the wood-cuts which illustrate this book.’ Maillol (1861-1944) began his career as a painter and tapestry designer but as he approached 40 his eyesight forced him to give up the latter. He took up sculpture, particularly female nudes and, during the 1920s and 30s created many woodcuts for book illustrations.

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Press G.11.191 (above) was printed in 1954 by the Folio Society, using the interpretation of the story by Irish novelist George Augustus Moore (1852-1933) and etchings by French costume designer Marcel Vertès (1895-1961). The Foreword states that “Many readers regard the version by … Moore, first published in 1924 … as the best of them all.” Moore had attended art school, but came to the conclusion that he was not naturally talented and, after reading a wide range of authors, began to write, first poems and then novels. and autobiographical writings.


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