London: The Cresset Press, 1953. First edition. Octavo. Original green cloth and dust jacket (not price-clipped); chipping to head and tail of dust jacket, and one-inch closed tear at spine, otherwise moderate edgewear. Near-fine in a very good-plus dust jacket. Item #49
A bright copy of this collection of fables from the British archeologist, poet, and essayist Jacquetta Hawkes (1910–1996). Hawkes was a highly respected British archeologist who combined her love for archeology, history, and literature to publish over twenty books—from poetry to fables to works on British history and geology. Hawkes was born in Cambridge, England, the youngest child of Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, a biochemist and 1929 Nobel Prize recipient for his credited discovery of vitamins (and the cousin of Gerard Manley Hopkins). She studied archeology at Newnham College, Cambridge, gaining first-class honors, and during the 1930s she joined and led archeological excavations around the world, including at Mount Carmel, Palestine, Gergovia in France, and County Waterford in Ireland. Hawkes soon combined her scientific and analytical talents with her gift for eloquent prose to write regularly on archeology for the Times of London and to compose a variety of literary works. In 1951 she published A Land, a groundbreaking work of natural history that combined archeology, literature, and memoir to explore the history of the British Isles. Fables was published by The Cresset Press in London in 1953; Hawkes’s fable collection was separately published in New York the same year by Random House under the name A Woman as Great as the World and Other Fables. Hawkes’s fables combine a mixture of history, nature, and anthropology with cultural criticism to weave legends of enduring value. Russell Kirk (1918–1994) included “The Woodpeckers and the Starling” (published in Fables) in The Portable Conservative Reader (1982), his celebrated anthology of conservative intellectual thought. Kirk admired Hawkes’s fables and quoted from them in his works and lectures. Fables is a thought-provoking work from one of the twentieth century’s most insightful and wide-ranging talents.