Phoebe Anna Traquair

'Sonnets from the Portuguese'

History and binding

The 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' manuscript was made for Phoebe Anna Traquair's brother, William Richardson Moss (1845-1915).

Moss was a Lancashire cotton manufacturer who commissioned a number of other significant art works from her, including an illuminated copy (1898-1902) of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's 'The House of Life', a painted ceiling decoration (1893-1894) for his house, Burnthwaite, near Bolton, and two fine enamelled caskets (1906-1907).

Library collection

On his death the manuscript passed to his son William Ernest Moss (1876-1953). His notable library, partly inspired by his aunt, included many works by the artist-poet William Blake, as well as important French, English and Persian manuscripts and finely printed Arts and Crafts books.

Binding to a Sanderson design

Manuscript front binding
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Manuscript spine binding
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On completion, in 1897, 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' was sent to London to be bound by the Doves Bindery in green calf, tooled and gilded, to a design by Thomas Cobden Sanderson.

Elizabeth Cumming


Illustration based on the painting of Phoebe Anna Traquair