Binding by Laura Wait

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), A Child’s Garden of Verses: with Nine Poems Not Published in Prior Editions. Illustrated by Joyce Lancaster Wilson (San Francisco: Press in Tuscany Alley, 1978). Copy 436 of 500. GAX copy bound by Laura Wait in black leather, hand tooled with gold, colored foil, and acrylic paint in a design based on illustrations in garden books. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), Oversize 2003-0114Q

The Child’s Garden of Verses is one of Stevenson’s most popular and most often illustrated books, although Stevenson himself never approved an illustrated edition during his lifetime.

Joyce Lancaster Wilson designed the 9 full-page and 36 initial woodcuts for this 1978 edition, which was printed by her husband, Adrian Wilson, at The Press in Tuscany Alley in an edition of 500 copies. Stevenson’s text includes nine poems contained in the 1883 trial proof of Child’s Garden but excluded from subsequent published editions. The introduction is by Janet Adam Smith, editor of Stevenson’s Collected Poems.

The Wilsons’ other books include Four Kings of the Forest (1973); The Ark of Noah (1975); and The Swing (1981). Adrian and Joyce did not set out to make books. They founded a theater company in 1946, for which Adrian printed programs and posters. His interest led to a job printing with Jack Stauffacher at Greenwood Press, before opening his own studio The Press in Tuscany Alley, located at One Tuscany Alley in San Francisco, California. He researched the history of book design and in 1983, received a MacArthur Fellowship for this work. When Adrian passed away in 1988, Joyce managed the business until her own death in 1996.

Princeton’s copy is bound by the Colorado book artist Laura Wait, who studied traditional English binding with Richard Tullett at Croydon. From 1981 to 2003, Wait ran a bookbinding and conservation business, and now works on books of her own design. For more information on her work, see