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The Cutting of an Agate.
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The Cutting of an Agate.

Published: New York: The Macmillan Company, 1912

Stock code: 102466

Price: £1,750

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition, first printing. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, “Prof Grierson from his friend W B Yeats. Dec 1912”. Publication date was 13 November 1912. Professor Sir Herbert John Clifford Grierson (1866–1960) was a Scottish literary scholar and critic. He was professor of English Literature at the University of Aberdeen at the time of Yeats’s inscription; he would go on to be appointed Knight Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. He specialised in the Metaphysical and Romantic poets. Laid-in to this copy is a hand-illustrated bookmark showing a cottage on one side and a roster of characters from Lady Gregory’s Cuchulain Muirthemne on the verso. The opening essay by Yeats in this collection considers Lady Gregory’s translations of the Cuchulain cycle. The rear free endpaper verso has a contemporary pencil transcription of a passage from Yeats’s essay “Poetry and Tradition” (pp. 116–38 in the present work): “Three types of people have made all beautiful things: aristocracies have made beautiful manners because their position in the world has put them above fear; country people have made beautiful legends and beliefs because they have nothing to lose and therefore do not fear; and the artists have made all the rest because Providence has filled them with recklessness.”

Octavo. Original green paper boards, rebacked to style with spine label laid down, paper label front board. 4 pp. publisher’s advertisements at end. Illustrated Yeats portrait bookplate on front pastedown. Spine and front label marked, corners rubbed, boards a little scratched and scuffed, sound and internally clean, a very good copy.

Bibliography: Wade 102.

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