243
243
Yeats, W.B. (ed.)
THE BOOK OF THE RHYMERS' CLUB. LONDON: ELKIN MATHEWS AT THE SIGN OF THE BODLEY HEAD, 1892
Estimate
15,00020,000
LOT SOLD. 25,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
243
Yeats, W.B. (ed.)
THE BOOK OF THE RHYMERS' CLUB. LONDON: ELKIN MATHEWS AT THE SIGN OF THE BODLEY HEAD, 1892
Estimate
15,00020,000
LOT SOLD. 25,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Library of an English Bibliophile Part VIII

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London

Yeats, W.B. (ed.)
THE BOOK OF THE RHYMERS' CLUB. LONDON: ELKIN MATHEWS AT THE SIGN OF THE BODLEY HEAD, 1892
8vo (162 x 124mm.), FIRST EDITION, ONE OF 450 COPIES, LADY AUGUSTA GREGORY'S COPY INSCRIBED BY YEATS ("This little book was put together | at my suggestion. I suggested it | because I wanted to have copies | of Dowson's poems. He had | read them aloud to us at the Cheshire | Cheese. W.B. Yeats") on front endpaper, original dark yellow cloth, white label on spine, collector's matching cloth chemise and quarter morocco slipcase, slight offsetting to front endpaper, minor spotting to fore-edge, minor wear to binding
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Provenance

Lady Augusta Gregory, bookplate; by descent to Major R.G. Gregory (sale of Lady Gregory's library, Sotheby's, 24 July 1979, lot 404); the book collector Simon Nowell-Smith, bookplate; his wife Judith Adams Nowell-Smith, bookplate; Bertram Rota Catalogue 300 (2002), Poetry. The Simon Nowell-Smith Collection, item 812

Literature

Wade 291

Catalogue Note

Yeats contributes six poems, all of which had appeared in 1890 or 1891, including "The Lake Isle of Innisfree". Other contributors include Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson, Richard le Gallienne and Arthur Symons.

A MAJOR PRESENTATION COPY OF THIS KEY EIGHTEEN-NINETIES ANTHOLOGY, PRESENTED BY YEATS TO LADY GREGORY, WITH WHOM HE HAD THE MOST ENDURING FRIENDSHIP OF HIS LIFE. Yeats met the playwright, folklorist, and literary patron Lady [Isabella] Augusta Gregory (1852-1932) at Edward Martyn's Galway castle in the summer of 1896, when she was 44 and he was 31. She was the youngest daughter of Sir Robert Gregory of the nearby Coole Park, Gort, who died in 1892 leaving her with one son Robert. She immediately invited Yeats to spend time with her at Coole, which would soon become Yeats's second home for the next thirty years.  "Their relationship quickly stabilized into mentor and artist...they rapidly became each other's closest friend and confidant, and remained so...until her death nearly forty years later. Over that period, while she sustained him in many ways, he helped her to emerge as one of the most prominent Irish writers of the day. In identifying her so deliberately by her title rather than by her Christian name, he not only defined their relationship, he helped create the image and name by which she would live, write and become famous..." (R.F. Foster, W.B. Yeats: A Life, Vol. 1, p.171).

The "Rhymers' Club" were a semi-bohemian "Celtic" circle of writers who met regularly at the Cheshire Cheese pub off Fleet Street from around January 1890 onwards. Ernest Rhys, Thomas Rolleston and Yeats were the original moving spirits, joined at various times by John Todhunter, Lionel Johnson, Ernest Dowson, Richard Le Gallienne, John Davidson, and others. The Club was partly infused with a strong homoerotic sub-culture: Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon were unofficial patrons, Lionel Johnson read his poems of repressed desire, and Oscar Wilde "looked in and out" (R.F. Foster, op.cit., p.108). Yeats's closest friend from the circle was the symbolist poet Arthur Symons. Ernest Dowson, whom Yeats refers to in his inscription in the present copy, was one of the most bohemian members, and "already celebrated for a youth dominated by hashish, drink and belles de nuit" (op.cit.).

The Library of an English Bibliophile Part VIII

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London