Friday, January 20, 2017

Byron to Hunt to Fields

Image of engraving of a young couple dancing outdoors with a throng of lounging onlookersPrepping for this week's class on British Romanticism helped us "discover" the Wordsworth Sonnets edition we just blogged. It also turned up a pretty cool double association copy. Our copy of the four volume Works of the Right Honorable Lord Byron (London: John Murray, 1815) came to us as one of one-hundred volumes from the library of James T. Fields bequeathed to Dartmouth by his widow in 1915. Fields was a partner in the legendary Boston firm Ticknor and Fields, the primary publisher of books from the nineteenth-century American Renaissance. Field's hobnobbed with the literati on both sides of the Atlantic, and his library is a stunner. Just having been owned by Fields makes this a pretty good association copy.

Image of inscription on flyleaf of the Works of Lord Byron. The inscription reads: "To Leigh Hunt from his friend the Author. June 1st, 1815.But there's more! This copy was a presentation copy from Lord Byron to the poet, journalist, and critic, Leigh Hunt. Hunt was a champion of the romantics and helped to popularize Byron, Keats, and Shelley (though he disliked Blake). So it is no surprise that Byron would grace him with a copy of this works. Interestingly, the book was presented to Hunt on June 1st, 1815. That was shortly after Hunt had been released from prison where he had served a two-year sentence for having slandered the Prince Regent, who would later be crowned George IV.

There are lots of markings in the book and some corrections. We think they are Leigh Hunt's hand, but they may be Fields's notes.

To see it ask for Fields 13.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Scorn Not the Sonnet

An image of a two-page spread of Wordsworth's 1838 first edition of "The Sonnets of William Wordsworth." On the left-hand side, a handwritten note by Wordsworth that reads, "The Lady Frederic Benti[nck?] from her friend William Wordsworth. On the right-hand page, "The Sonnets of William Wordsworth / Collected in one volume / with / a few additional ones, now first published / London: / Edward Moxon, Dover Street. / MDCCCXXXVIII"
 Every now and then, we stumble upon a oft-overlooked gem upon our shelves and marvel that, until that moment, we had not previously discovered it. One of our recent thrilling finds is the 1838 publication of The Sonnets of William Wordsworth. In this humble little first edition, the poet has inscribed a dedication to his friend, the Lady Frederic Benti[nck?], on the flyleaf. At the risk of sounding overly spoiled, a presentation copy of Wordsworth's poetry wasn't the real reason why this particular volume excited us.

A two-page spread of the inside back cover of the book of poetry. On the right-hand side, a list of various works published by Edward Moxon, Dover Street. On the right-hand side, Wordsworth's handwritten sonnets with notes as outlined in the actual blog post.In addition to his personal note to his friend, inside the back cover Wordsworth has written out two sonnets from his Memorials of a Tour in Italy 1837: "Under the Shadow of a Stately Pile" and "I Saw Afar Off the Dark Top of a Pine." After the first one, he has written "October 14, 1839" (presumably the date of the inscription). After the second sonnet, he includes the clarification that the pine in question stands upon Mount Mario, the highest hill in Rome. This is exciting stuff, but the little book has yet more secrets to reveal. On pages 34, 301, and 405, Wordsworth has made corrections by hand to three of his printed sonnets. One can almost imagine the revered poet turning slowly through the pages as he deliberately and carefully annotated this volume for a close friend.
A two-page spread of pp. 34-35 of the book of sonnets. Wordsworth's Sonnet XXX, "It Is A Beauteous Evening Calm And Free," is on the left-hand page. He has corrected the first line to read as the title, replacing the words "Air sleeps, from strife or stir the clouds are free;". The ninth and tenth lines are altered to read "Dear Child! Dear Girl! That walkest with me here, / If thou appear untouched solemn thought,". On the right-hand page is the sonnet "Composed at ____ Castle," that begins with the line, "Degenerate Douglas! oh, the unworthy Lord!"
To see this exciting book for yourself, which was a gift of John W. Little, class of 1940, come to Rauner and ask to hold Rare PR5866 .A1 1838.