Arion Lyre

62. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard, with watercolors by William Matthews.

Arcadia, a play by Tom Stoppard, with a foreword by the playwright, an introduction by Diana Ketcham, and four views of Sidley Park by William Matthews, 2001.


Arcadia is a masterwork of contemporary English drama, considered by many as the finest play by Tom Stoppard, whose work New York Times critic Clive Barnes has called "unrivaled in today's English-speaking theater". The play had its first performance in London in 1993. Of Stoppard's "high comedies of ideas", Arcadia is surely the funniest, most affecting, and readily comprehended. It immediately touches the heart. In the country-house play tradition, Arcadia begins in 1809 in the schoolroom of Sidley Park, the seat of the Coverly family, where Lord and Lady Croom are entertaining a set of poets and intellectuals that includes the historical figure Lord Byron. Episodes alternate in Sidley Park between 1809-1812 and the present, nearly two centuries later, among the Croom descendants. The plot interweaves elements of the murder mystery with bedroom farce, here a situation comedy about marital discord over remodeling the family garden. Stoppard displays his fascination with chaos theory, which his characters bring to bear on their arguments over such subjects as Newtonian determinism and the Classic versus the Romantic. The teenage prodigy Thomasina Coverly tries to prove Fermat's Last Theorem, a legendary problem in mathematics. Although the proof had eluded science since the seventeenth century, a solution was coincidentally announced a few months after the opening of Arcadia.

Publisher Andrew Hoyem's design for the book recognizes the theme of Arcadia that is reflected in its title, the debates over style in the history of the English garden. The landscape format and fold-out illustrations are an allusion to the presentation books of the garden designer Humphrey Repton, referred to in the stage directions for the play, and whose imaginary counterpart, the landscaper Richard Noakes, launches Act One by turning the pages of his book of proposals for the Sidley Park gardens. The illustrations show the reader the larger setting for the play, exterior to the stage set, referred to but unseen by the audience.


Tom Stoppard was born in 1937 in Zlin, Czechoslovakia. During the war, his family moved to Singapore and then Darjeeling, India. He was sent to study in England, leaving school in 1954, at the age of 17, to work as a newspaper reporter and critic. He has been the prolific author of plays, screenplays, translations, radio plays, criticism, stage and film adaptations, and fiction. Along with Harold Pinter, Stoppard lead the second wave of the revolution in English post-war drama, following that of John Osborne and the Angry Young Men and, earlier, of Samuel Beckett. His plays include Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1967), Jumpers (1972), Travesties (1974), Night and Day (1978), The Real Thing (1984), The Invention of Love (1997), and Indian Ink (1998). Stoppard has continued to write screenplays, including "Shakespeare in Love" (1998). The linguistic virtuosity displayed by one who was not born to English causes Stoppard to be ranked with the great émigré writers Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov.


William Matthews is among the foremost American artists in watercolor. Though his themes come mainly from the West, showing the romance and realities of ranching life, he has traveled far beyond his base in Colorado, finding inspiration for pictures in exotic and humble places around the globe. William Matthews was born in New York City in 1949. He lives in Evergreen, Colorado, and has a gallery in Denver. He is represented in Santa Fe, New Mexico, by Nedra Matteucci's Fenn Gallery, and in New York City by the Spanierman Gallery, where solo exhibitions were held in 1998 and 2000. A traveling exhibition, "Cowboys and Images: The Watercolors of William Matthews" (1994-2000) was accompanied by a book of the same title published by Chronicle Books. His work is represented in prominent private and public collections, including the Denver Art Museum.

Book with Prints


The illustrations are presented in an unusual manner, allowing the book to be displayed with all four illustrations on view at once while pages from the dialogue are open as well. This device also allows the reader to follow the changes in the physical setting for the play, the landscape of Sidley Park in Derbyshire, over two hundred and sixty years. "Four Views of Sidley Park" show: 1) the original manor house in 1730 and a formal Italianate garden with stone terraces, a geometric arrangement of pools, fountains, topiaries, parterres, and allées, and a temple folly modeled on the Parthenon; 2) the pre-1809 garden by Capability Brown, in the "natural" style, with a lake, serpentine stream, gazebo, Chinese bridge, Classical boathouse, clumps of trees, and "the right amount of sheep, tastefully arranged"; 3) the post-1812 picturesque garden by Noakes, without the bridge or boathouse but with the addition of a rustic hermitage, a grotto and rushing waterfall, and dark woods, compared to "a haunt for hobgoblins"; 4) the present-day (1993) estate, with manor house, temple, and hermitage surviving; but now a tennis court and swimming pool have been interpolated, and a tent for a charity ball is set up in the meadow.


The introductory essay is by Diana Ketcham, senior editor at Arion Press. She earned a Ph.D. degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Ketcham is recognized as a book critic, having served as the Book Review Editor for the Oakland Tribune, and more recently active as an architecture critic and landscape architecture historian. Her writing appears in the New York Times, The Nation, and The New Republic, among other publications. She is the author of Le Désert de Retz: A Late Eighteenth-Century French Folly Garden, published in a limited edition by Arion Press in 1991, subsequently issued in a revised trade edition by the MIT Press, which won the American Institute of Architects Award in 1994 in the category of landscape architecture. Her introduction elucidates the intellectual debate that runs through Arcadia, and in a section entitled "Notes on the Landscape" she identifies the fashions in the English garden over the period covered by the play.


Format: oblong, 11 by 14 inches, 132 pages. The types are Monotype Scotch Roman (introduced around 1810, during the earlier time of the play), composed and cast at Mackenzie & Harris; and handset Lilith, designed by Lucien Bernard in 1930. Printing of the text was by letterpress. The paper is mouldmade Zerkall. The illustrations were printed by Urban Digital Color in continuous tone, using a Roland Digital Pigment Printer, on mouldmade Somerset paper. The four prints fold out from the insides of the cover, two from the front, two from the back. The books are handsewn and bound in boards covered with green Japanese cloth and are presented in a slipcase with cloth edges and paper sides. The edition is limited to 400 numbered copies for sale, each copy signed by the playwright and the artist.

Edition of the book only (350 copies) $850. Available.

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The edition of "Four Views of Sidley Park", the extra suite of prints by William Matthews, is limited to 50 sets for sale, each print numbered, titled, and signed by the artist. The prints are at 86% scale of the original watercolors. They were printed by Urban Digital Color in continuous tone, using an Iris Printer. The images are 15.5 by 20 inches on heavier Somerset mouldmade watercolor paper, 22.25 by 26.25 inches. The prints are presented in a portfolio.

Edition of the book with the extra suite of four larger prints (50 sets), $3,250. Available.

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The Editions

Book with four watercolor illustrations by William Matthews, printed in continuous tone on mouldmade Somerset paper. The four prints fold out from the insides of the cover, two from the front, two from the back. Each copy is signed by the playwright and the artist. Edition of 350. Price: $850.

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The extra suite of larger prints by William Matthews, "Four Views of Sidley Park", with each print numbered, titled, and signed by the artist. The prints are presented in a portfolio. Suite of four larger prints with the book: edition of 50. Price: $3,250.

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Also Available: “Four Views of Sidley Park”, the four original watercolors by William Matthews, are also available for sale. Price for the set of four: $30,000. Individually priced: $10,000 each.

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