John Crowley and I first discussed doing a museum-quality edition of Little, Big in the Summer of 1992. After I published his short story collection Antiquities: Seven Stories in November 1993, Crowley told me the quality of that edition convinced him that the editorial and production team of Ron Drummond and John D. Berry could really do justice to a new edition of Little, Big. In the Summer of 1995, Crowley and I discovered the art of Peter Milton during a walk through the Seattle Art Museum; we felt strongly that Milton’s art might well provide the ideal visual accompaniment for the novel.
In 2002, after further conversations with Crowley, we decided to go ahead with the long-term, subscription-based production of an art-inflected, museum-quality new edition of Little, Big. In August of that year I cold-called Peter Milton, who had never heard of John Crowley. But after he read Antiquities and part of Little, Big, and got a sense of Crowley’s qualities as a writer and of our book-production values, Milton enthusiastically agreed to join the project. While our original hope had been that Milton would create new art in response to the novel, his own artistic commitments and the long lead time for creating new work (roughly one new piece per year) made that impractical. In recognition of the suitability of a large proportion of Milton’s prior artistic output, I made the radical proposal that we juxtapose details from Milton’s preexisting art with Crowley’s prose, interweaving the two bodies of work in a way that would constitute a new, third artistic creation; Crowley and Milton found this proposal highly intriguing and gave their approval.
The Little, Big Project was officially launched at Potlatch in Seattle in late February 2004, at which convention we received our first prepaid subscriptions. Production work on Little, Big began informally in January 2006 and officially in September 2006. Over the next three years, we scanned, proofed, copyedited, and completed a major, in-depth editorial redaction of the novel’s text (working closely with John Crowley on all aspects of the text and with his final approval); created the basic typographical design for the book and the design template for the art layouts; acquired and created from scratch a library of over a thousand digital images of Peter Milton’s art; and very slowly and carefully selected and put into place over 300 details from Milton’s art, completing a first, fully art-inflected electronic proof of the edition in late September 2009, which was then sent to Crowley, Milton, Berry, and several Project consultants for detailed reviews and critiques. During that same three-year period, Harold Bloom wrote and delivered a 10,000-word essay about Little, Big and Ægypt that will appear as the Afterword to our edition; John Crowley wrote an original, 5,400-word short story set in the milieu of Little, Big that will be published as an exclusive part of the Numbered and Lettered editions of the book; and we published the “Suppose One Were a Fish” art poster and made it available for sale. After some unavoidable delays, in September 2010, having fully revised the art selections and layouts, we completed a second electronic proof of the edition and began another round of assessments and further refinements, for the first time sending a copy beyond the Project’s immediate circle to an independent writer and scholar for review. At which point we pick up our continuing story with the Project Update of 5 October 2010 and all subsequent updates.
— Ron Drummond