The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Laurence Sterne

Illustrated by Tom Phillips

Preface by Patrick Wildgust

Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies

Editorial material by Melvyn New

Over Half sold

The ultimate edition of this comic masterpiece newly illustrated and signed by Tom Phillips RA


Tristram Shandy

One of the greatest works of imagination in English literature ——————— this hilarious fictional autobiography of a hapless anti-hero tore up the rules of novel-writing when the novel had scarcely been invented.

The Folio Society’s unique limited edition has been designed, illustrated and signed by an equally extraordinary artist —— Tom Phillips RA. Rising to the challenge presented by such an experimental work, Phillips has packed his instantly-recognisable collages with verbal and visual puns, to form the perfect pictorial counterpart to Laurence Sterne’s comic masterpiece.

What is all this story about?——
A COCK and a BULL, said Yorick —— And one of the best of its kind, I ever heard.

Production Details

Limited Edition

  • 750 hand-numbered copies signed by Tom Phillips
  • Limitation page printed letterpress by Hand & Eye on Hahnemühle Bugra Bütten paper and tipped-in by hand
  • Bound in Charmante-Gwebe cloth printed and blocked with a design by Tom Phillips
  • Title blocked in gold foil on spine
  • 512 pages set in Founder’s Caslon and printed on Abbey Pure paper
  • 10 illustrations by Tom Phillips, including frontispiece, printed on Veltique paper
  • Marbled page by Jemma Lewis tipped-in by hand
  • Gilded top edge
  • Ribbon marker


  • Preface by Patrick Wildgust, curator at Shandy Hall
  • Editorial material by Melvyn New
  • Bound in Iris cloth blind-blocked with a design by Tom Phillips
  • Title blocked in gold foil on spine
  • 180 pages


  • Cloth-covered slipcase with top and bottom lips
  • Blocked in dark red foil on one side with a design by Tom Phillips
  • Lined in Art Vellum paper
  • 10½" x 7¾"

Laurence Sterne’s comic masterpiece

Tristram Shandy is a book that defies classification, as Sterne drew on, and even plagiarised his literary heroes – Montaigne, Rabelais, Burton, Swift and Cervantes – to create something uniquely his own. It sets out as an attempt by its title character to give a meaningful account of his life, and his efforts to overcome its inauspicious beginnings – but Tristram finds himself constantly thwarted by the irrepressible urge to make digressions focussing on an array of eccentric characters, including his wildly opinionated father, Walter Shandy, his mild-mannered Uncle Toby, a wounded ex-soldier obsessed with creating scale-models of military sieges, the predatory Widow Wadman, and Sterne’s own literary alter-ego, Parson Yorick. 

Tristram Shandy

Everything about Tristram Shandy is unusual: its stream-of-consciousness, conversational style; its bizarre chronology, with sentences that start in one volume and are completed in another, and the whole tale ending several years before Tristram has even been born; its encyclopaedic range, from moments of high sentiment to the bawdy humour of its laugh-out-loud set-pieces.

But most striking of all is Tristram’s own idiosyncratic presence as author and narrator, as he suggests that readers should skip over pages, attempts to sell the dedication to the highest bidder, opportunistically inserts a preface while his main characters are asleep, and claims to have torn out a whole chapter because it was too well-written and would have overshadowed the rest of his book.

It is hardly surprising that Tristram Shandy’s inventive style and distinctive authorial voice have been championed and imitated by writers as varied as Thomas Mann and James Joyce, Salman Rushdie and Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx and Virginia Woolf.

The text and commentary

The main volume presents the full text of Tristram Shandy, as established by Melvyn and Joan New in their authoritative Florida Edition of The Works of Laurence Sterne. To allow for easy cross-referencing, a separate commentary volume contains the indispensable introduction and notes by Melvyn New, a carefully updated bibliography and an invaluable glossary of technical terms for military fortifications. 

Also included is a playful new preface by Patrick Wildgust, tireless promoter of Laurence Sterne and resident curator of Shandy Hall, the parsonage where Sterne wrote the bulk of Tristram Shandy. It gives a rare first-hand insight into Tom Phillips’ carefully-constructed illustrations.


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