Valentine and Orson (1919)

Illustrated by Florence Anderson

 

 

To the left, we show an original 1st Edition of

Valentine and Orson - as published by Simpkin,

Marhsall, Hamilton, Kent & Co. Ltd. (London)

in 1919.

 

This example retains the original elaborately titled

red cloth cover with applied colour paste-down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the right, we show the Title Page

to Valentine and Orson.

 

Valentine and Orson - as published in 1919 and carrying the illustrations of Florence Anderson - is an example of an

English-language variant of a medieval French tale set in the early Carolingian Court of Pepin, also known as Pepin the

Hunchback (the eldest son of Charlemagne by Himiltrude). This particular version was prepared by S R Littlewood -

who, among other literary achievements, is known as one of the founding members of the Critic's Circle.

 

The medieval tale of Valentine and Orson is one of Royal twins abandoned in the woods at the behest of Pepin - one,

Valentine, to be raised in Court (with his true identity during his childhood being unknown to Pepin), while the other

twin, Orson, is raised by bears. Through fortune, Valentine discovers and befriends Orson and the pair undertake a series

of adventures wherein the pair rescue their mother, Bellisant.

 

Littlewood's 'Preface' provides a lovely overview of history of the tale and his motivation for drawing together his own

variant (and upon reading it today, it seems as relevant now as it was nearly 90 years ago):

 

In making this little version of the famous Carlovingian romance of "Valentine and Orson,"

I offer no apology for having followed the simple rule which proved a happy one in the

story of "Amadis." Just as I read the old book to please my children and myself, so that

pleasure has been my guide in the retelling of the "Historye of the Two Valyaunte Brethren."

 

The actual French original, of which that printed at Lyons in 1489 was itself only an adaptation,

has of course vanished. Probably the whole thing is an old folk-tale that found its way into the

chronicles of Christian chivalry through Constantinople. The English versions all go back one

way or another to that made by Henry Watson in 1550. I do not pretend to have been

scrupulously faithful either to this or to any one version. What pleased me in Watson's I have

kept, but even he has been cut down to something like a sixth of his very inordinate length.

When the language was too crabbed for pleasant understanding, I have felt no qualms about

altering it, but I have found that children really like some of the old-fashioned turns of phrase,

even when they have to be explained. There is, after all, just as much in a modern newspaper

which is meaningless to a child as there is in an old romance, and the explaining of it would

not always yield as much charm. I have chosen the English names for the most part, however

barbarously wrong. Milon D'Angler, for instance, becomes Myllain Daugler. D'Angler looks

well, but the inevitable you pronunciation does not accrue to that gallant commander's

dignity!

 

With these confessions, it may be well also to express my wonder, in reading for myself the

story of Valentine and Orson, that it should have remained (save for a few old pantomimes

and Walter Crane's "Three Bears" picture book) practically forgotten for wellnigh a century.

Tom me it has proved fascinating from every point of view - quite apart from the remarkable

anticipation of the gramophone in the Brazen Head, and of the aeroplane in Pacolet's Flying

Horse. There is a sense all through it of a philosophy of romance that one does not find

anywhere else - a sense that beneath all the outward show of chivalry was something deeper

than any particular form of civilisation, something that knit wild man and knight, emperor

and hermit, in a bond of purely human suffering and comradeship.

 

It has seemed to me that there is a half-conscious message out of that mediŠval chaos which

is by no means without appeal in our won day - Valentine's final abandonment of a world

of war as against Orson's knowledge that it was at any rate better than a world of untutored

savagery, points exactly the question that many are asking now. In a way, the mediŠval

world may be said to have lived through in five centuries very much what we have lived

through in five years - and we are still wondering what is to be done with Constantinople!

Out of those multitudinous agonies and slaughters of long ago - in themselves as real and

ugly as those of our own time - we at this distance only see the beauty, the adventure,

the romance!

 

Anderson's illustrations are a glorious accompaniment to the tale reworked by Littlewood.

 

 

Our Greeting Cards and Reproduction Prints

 

 

For connoisseurs of Anderson's work, we have prepared sets of 8 Greeting Cards displaying each of her colour images for Valentine and Orson and on the left, we show an example of how these Greeting Cards appear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Code: FA VO CS(8)
Price: US$40.00

When presented on Greeting Cards, these images are prepared as tipped-in plates - in hommage to the hand-crafted

approach typical of prestige illustrated publications produced in the early decades of the 20th Century. Each card is

hand-finished and and the images are presented on Ivory card stock with an accompanying envelope. The rear of each

card carries information about Florence Anderson, this wonderful suite and the profiled illustration - we have left the

interior of the cards blank so that you may write your own personal message.

 

Should you wish to order a Reproduction Print of one or more of these images, we have provided some options below.

Each of these large format prints is also accompanied by information about Florence Anderson, this suite and the profiled

illustration.

 

To purchase, simply click on the appropriate "Add to Cart" button and you will be taken through to our Shopping Cart

secured through PayPal. Multiple purchases will be consolidated by that feature and shipping and handling costs to any

destination in the world are accommodated by our flat-rate fee of US$20 for every US$200 worth of purchases.

 

Of course, should you wish to discuss some customised options, we welcome your contact on any matter through

ThePeople@SpiritoftheAges.com.

 

In the meantime, enjoy perusing these wonderful images from Florence Anderson.

 

 

The colour illustrations

 

How Valentine and Orson were Lost

The Empress, left comfortless,

fell into a fit of weeping.

Meeting of Valentine and Orson

A sudden impulse of pity checked him.

(Frontispiece)

 

 

Valentine and Orson go to Acquitain

When Eglantine heard that Valentine

was going she was very sorrowful.

Orson Triumphant

Orson took the shield from the tree as

easily as if it had leapt into his hand.

Reproduction on 11x14" sheet

Code: FA VO C1 (11x14)
Price: US$60.00

 

 

Reproduction on 11x14" sheet

Code: FA VO C2 (11x14)
Price: US$60.00

 

 

Reproduction on 11x14" sheet

Code: FA VO C3 (11x14)
Price: US$60.00

 

 

Reproduction on 11x14" sheet

Code: FA VO C4 (11x14)
Price: US$60.00

 

 

Love at First Sight

She stood as one in a trance.

The Message of the Brazen Head

He had studied many arts.

King Trompart and his Passengers

Clerimond, seeing his will,

feigned herself to be mad.

Brandiffer does his Worst

Thus they sped forth secretly

in the darkness of the night.

 

 

Reproduction on 11x14" sheet

Code: FA VO C5 (11x14)
Price: US$60.00

 

 

Reproduction on 11x14" sheet

Code: FA VO C6 (11x14)
Price: US$60.00

 

 

Reproduction on 11x14" sheet

Code: FA VO C7 (11x14)
Price: US$60.00

 

 

Reproduction on 11x14" sheet

Code: FA VO C8 (11x14)
Price: US$60.00