London: The Westminster Press/Faber and Faber Limited, 1952. First edition. Poster: Large original broadside (30 by 20 inches; 76 by 51 cm) with central color linoleum cut, very light edge-wear with a couple of tiny nicks and tears, custom matted and framed. Book: Small quarto (9 1/2 inches tall), original mauve cloth, original dust jacket, faint tanning to blank flyleaves, price-clipped dust jacket. A near-fine copy. Item #694
THE MARTYRDOM OF THOMAS BECKET. Stunning original British film poster of T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral--designed for the 1952 cinematic adaptation of Eliot's play--along with a first edition of the adapted screenplay, combining the original text of the play with the additional scenes written by Eliot for the film. T.S. Eliot was commissioned by the Friends of Canterbury Cathedral to write a play for the stage at the annual Canterbury Festival. Murder in the Cathedral premiered in 1935 with Robert Speaight as Archbishop Thomas Becket. The German-born artist Peter Strausfeld "came to Brighton at the start of the Second World War. During internment in 1940-41 on the Isle of Man at the Onchan Internment Camp, he met the Austrian film producer George Hoellering. In 1947 Hoellering established the Academy Cinema in London and Peter became its poster designer" (University of Brighton, Graphic Arts Hall of Fame). When Hoellering adapted Eliot's play for the screen, Strausfeld produced a magnificent advertisement for the Academy Cinema, printed at the Westminster Press. The defining element of the poster is the brilliant stained-glass window, a large (21 ½ inches by 18 ½ inches) original multi-color linocut depicting Becket's martyrdom in 1170 at the hands of knights of King Henry II. Frequently reproduced in facsimile in later years, this original bears the determinative imprint of the Westminster Press, as well as the obvious qualitative features of the original linocut that are absent from the reproductions. The book is illustrated with six color plates, black-and-white sketches by Peter Pendrey, and 48 pages of photographic plates stills from the film. With one Preface by Eliot and another by Hoellering. One of the iconic film posters of the decade.