One Hundred Seventy-Eight Chinese Poems

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One Hundred Seventy-Eight Chinese Poems


William Mathews


Constable & Co. Ltd, London



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Brief Notes on Book

Former paperback bound by William Mathews in 1953, Guilford, UK.


My paperback copy of "One Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems" translated by Arthur Waley, was rebound for me by William Mathews in 1953.

William Mathews (1898-1977) was one of the most eminent bookbinders of his generation, teacher to many and described by Bernard Middleton in his book, "Recollections: A Life In Bookbinding".

My book is a 1947 reprint of the 1918 edition. It comprises 168 pages of inferior wartime paper printed in two parts, each with an introduction by Waley. The first part consists of examples of the poems of seven dynasties and the second part is devoted to the work of one of one poet, Po Chu-I. As a traditional binding it is sewn on tapes, rounded and backed, with silk headbands, gilded top edge. It is covered in khaki goatskin, and tooled in gold with yellow skin onlays on both boards.

I was a bookbinding "student" in 1953 mainly because I had friends in the adjacent printing department in the art school I attended. I discovered that Mathews was not really interested in teaching me, but pleased to have me sitting nearby on the bench while he demonstrated his skill on my books, and talked about his racehorse. He rode every weekend in the local countryside.

The experience led me to a bookbinding vocation later in life which I have much enjoyed. William Mathews bound two other books for me while we chatted but this book is the prettiest and the one carried on my travels.


Anne Royston


Chinese Poems.JPG


William Mathews, “One Hundred Seventy-Eight Chinese Poems,” Caxton Club Exhibits, accessed July 26, 2021,