ROSSETTI, DANTE GABRIEL | Poems. London: F. S. Ellis, 1870. [And:] Ballads and Sonnets. London: Ellis and White, 1881
The Property of a Gentleman
The Property of a Gentleman
ROSSETTI, DANTE GABRIEL
Poems. London: F. S. Ellis, 1870. [And:] Ballads and Sonnets. London: Ellis and White, 1881
Two volumes (4 7/8 x 7 1/2 in.; 125 x 190 mm). Half-titles, publisher's advertisements at end of each volume; a few stray spots. Uniformly bound by Burn & Co. in original green cloth, gilt floral motif to covers and spines designed by Rossetti, floral endpapers also designed by Rossetti; corners of Poems just bumped, very slight rubbing to two corners of Ballads.
Group lots not subject to return.
Together two first editions, Rossetti's first and second collections of poetry, which represent the only to be published in his lifetime — the Blair copies
On 11 February 1862, Rossetti's wife, Elizabeth Siddal, died of a laudanum overdose. When she was buried on 17 February, her husband Dante Gabriel Rossetti consigned his manuscript poems to her grave—plot no 5779 in Highgate Cemetery—as a gesture of sacrifice. As he placed the notebook in the coffin, Rossetti said to his companions: “I have often been writing at those poems when Lizzie was ill and suffering, and I might have been attending to her, and now they shall go.”
Six years later, however, Rossetti began experiencing vision problems, describing sensations of “wavering and swimming,” and “whirling and flickering.” This, for the artist, was a blow, but it also gave him reason to return to poetry, which was perhaps his first love. Though he drafted many new poems during this period, he feared his collection was too slim, and would be but a mere "mouse" when compared William Morris's "mountain" of verse. On 6 September 1868, Rossetti was granted permission by Home Secretary Henry A. Bruce—who just happened to be a friend of the artist—“for leave to exhume the body of the late wife of Mr D. G. Rossetti interred in a grave in the Highgate Cemetery for the purpose of obtaining a book placed in the coffin.” On the evening of 5 October, gravediggers removed the grave slab, were tipped with beer money, and the notebook was taken away to be disinfected. When the manuscript was returned to Rossetti ten days later, he commented that it was “in a disappointing but not hopeless state.” “Jenny,” the poem he was most eager to have in his possession once more, had a “great worm-hole right through every page.” Still, he managed to overcome such obstacles, and the old poems that had lain in Lizzie's grave were published alongside the new.
A fine set of Rossetti's poems
Nathalie Blair (Blairhame booklabel to front pastedown of each volume; her sale, Sotheby's New York, 3 December 2004, lot 219)
Condition as described in catalogue entry. Group lots not subject to return.
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