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John Masefield (1878-1967)

Right Royal 1920

RCIN 1089617

After Masefield became Poet Laureate, he sent copies of his poems, illustrated by himself and his daughter Judith Masefield, to George V. This volume is part of a limited print run which used handmade paper, and a quarter vellum binding with blue paper covers and gold tooling on the spine. Sir Owen Morshead, the Royal Librarian in the 1940s, inquired of Masefield as to who had produced the illustrations seen on so many of the poems he presented to monarchs. Masefield replied most were his, although his daughter was responsible for some of them. Although he could not remember who had done which, he assured the librarian that 'It is a point very easily determined, for if any of the illustrations shew talent or skill those are hers, no doubt of that.' It is clear that Judith Masefield was responsible for many of the illustrations in this volume, as they have a more exuberant and colourful style, and cover a wider range of subject matter than her father's work. Judith was 26 in 1930, and a book illustrator in her own right. This poem is about a race horse, the narrative follows the fortunes of one of the riders and his horse, Right Royal. The poem is imaginative, describing the race through visions, dreams and symbolism. This literary technique is complemented by Judith Masefield's rather magical illustrations. John Masefield was poet laureate from 1930 to his death in 1967. He was a prolific poet and fiction writer, and by the end of his life his volume of 'Collected Poems' had sold over 200,000 copies. This was an unprecedented figure for a modern poet, and spoke to his popularity with readers. Today, however, he is perhaps most well known as a children's writer, having authored such classics as The Midnight Folk (1927) and The Box of Delights (1935).