The Art of Book Design: The Poetical works of John Keats

Today’s book was sent in by one of our readers, Vanessa. The book has a simple cover, but it’s beautiful inside and comes with a touching story that Vanessa is graciously sharing with all of us.

John Keats. The Poetical Works of John Keats. London, Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press, 1917

The Poetical works of John Keats, flyleaf, photo ©Vanesssa, all rights reserved

The Poetical Works of John Keats, title page, Photo by ©Vanesssa, all rights reserved

The poetical works of John Keats, inscriptions, photo ©Vanesssa, all rights reserved

So that’s the book. Now, here’s the letter that Vanessa sent with the photos of the book. The letter explains both inscriptions and makes the book something very special.

photo ©Vanesssa, all rights reserved

photo ©Vanesssa, all rights reserved



Dear Vanessa

This will perhaps be early for your birthday but I have tried to pack the jam dish for Mummy and its a shame to undo it all or to keep it waiting here. It has taken me nearly 2 hrs to work out this packing & so hope very much that it arrives safely.

The little hankies are for Adrain & should have been put in an earlier parcel.

Now for your birthday gift. You will see that it is not new. Knowing you like poetry & this is one of England’s best poets, we thought it good for you. You will see I gave it to grandma before we were married. It was only 9 days before the First World War ended and I was on leave at that time & wanted to give her a nice souvenir as I went back to France. Of course we did not know then the war would end so soon afterwards. It was one of Grandma’s treasures and she hopes you will like it & have enjoyment from it for many years. With best love from us both. I hope you have a Happy Birthday. We hope also that you have a happy and successful trip to Expo 67.

Best love to you all,

Grandma and Grandpa

p.s. This is the jam dish Grandma promised Mummy. Watch out for the spoon. It’s in the packing.


Share these between you

What a wonderful gift Vanessa. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. Your grandparents would be pleased to know that all these years later their gift to you is still meaningful.




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