Lot 252
  • 252

Digby, Sir Kenelm

4,000 - 6,000 USD
3,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Digby, Sir Kenelm
  • Autograph manuscript poem (beginning "The third which doth my painefull life sustaine")
  • paper
An elegy following the death of his wife, Venetia, (née Stanley), 53 lines in five stanzas of nine lines and one stanza of eight lines signed at the end with a monogram ("KD"), three pages, folio (290 x 195 mm), 1630s; spotting, tears neatly repaired, remains of former mount on final verso. Red morocco- backed folding-box.


George Manners, FSA, FLS (Sotheby's, 20 May 1880, lot 42, to Wilkinson) — Bloomsbury Book Auctions, 23 April 1997, lot 165. acquisition: Bernard Quaritch, 1998

Catalogue Note

An unpublished poem that forms part of one of the most famous love stories of the seventeenth century. Venetia Stanley (1600-1633) was a celebrated beauty at the Jacobean court who married her childhood sweetheart, the courtier and natural philosopher Kenelm Digby. Their happy marriage was celebrated in paintings commissioned from Van Dyke and Isaac Oliver but lasted less than ten years before Venetia's sudden decline and death. Digby was devastated but found some solace in extravagant expressions of grief, ensuring Venetia's life and death were commemorated by many of the greatest poets of the day, including Ben Jonson, and himself writing a series of elegies of which this poem, which returns repeatedly to the absence of his beloved, is a typical example.

This poem was probably originally part of a volume of Digby's papers that remained with the Bright family, descendants of Kenelm Digby. When that volume was edited for the Roxburghe Club in 1877, Henry A. Bright noted that the volume was incomplete as some papers had been "given away as autographs." The remaining volume remained with the family until 2014 (Christie's London, 16 July 2014, lot 33).