James Schuyler and Claire Van Vliet. The Fireproof Floors of Witley Court: English Songs and Dances. No 148 of an edition of 150.
(Newark. VT: Janus Press. 1976). Sevier Collection.
Vanderbilt University Special Collections
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Schuyler (1923-1991) was a member of the New York School of artists and poets of the 1950s and 1960s, which included poets John Ashberry and Frank O'Hara as well as abstract expressionist painters such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko and second generation New York School painters such as Larry Rivers and Grace Hartigan. The collaborative nature of the New York School is echoed in this work from 1976, which marries Schuyler's text and Claire Van Vliet's artistry. The Fireproof Floors of Witley Court is particularly rare, as it was created for Janus Press subscribers and copies were rarely sold to the public. The book features 12 poems by Schuyler, beginning with a cautionary tale of Samuel Dawkes' so-called fireproof Witley Court, which turned out to be flammable. Other poems examine life in late 19th and early 20th century England. Bright orange paper wraps are embossed with a silver man in the moon, echoed on the rear page. The purple silhouette of Levens Hall, Westmorland, England, a manor home dating from 1350, with a green silhouette of the celebrated topiary gardens established in 1694, are featured on the cut out endpapers.