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The Ring and the Book.
  • The Ring and the Book.
  • The Ring and the Book.
  • The Ring and the Book.
  • The Ring and the Book.
  • The Ring and the Book. 1
  • The Ring and the Book.
  • The Ring and the Book.
  • The Ring and the Book. 1
  • The Ring and the Book.
  • The Ring and the Book. 1

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BROWNING, Robert.

The Ring and the Book.

In four volumes.

Published: London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1868-9

Stock code: 70124

Price: £15,000

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First edition, presentation copy to Frederick Locker-Lampson, a very early presentation between the two poets, if not the earliest. Each volume is inscribed by Browning at the head of the title page. The first volume is inscribed “Frederick Locker from his friend RB. Dec: 6 ’68.” The second and third, “Robert Browning to his friend Frederick Locker”, undated. The fourth is inscribed “To F. Locker Esq. With repeated assurance of the true regards of Robert Browning. 91. Victoria Street. Feb. 27 ’69.” Laid into the first volume is a six-line poem in Browning’s autograph on Athenaeum Club stationery, beginning “Here you behold us, Eve & Adam …” which remains apparently unpublished. On 6 July 1874 Locker married his second wife, the children’s writer Hannah Jane Lampson, whose surname he added to his own. He gave these volumes to her as an engagement present, noting the fact on the blanks facing the inscribed titles. In the first volume, he has written, “Transferred to J.L. 5 May 1874. F.L. Robert Browning was the donor, Janie Lampson is the owner.” His inscription in volume II reads, “Transferr’d to Jane Hannah Lampson”, initialled by him and with the same date. Volume III has a similar inscription, “Transferr’d to H. Jane Lampson”, also initialled, but with the following day’s date; as does volume IV, now just “Jane Lampson”, and with the jocular couplet added below: “I’m Jane’s! I belong to her own dear self! Read, and return me to yonder shelf.” A fine association copy of Browning’s magnum opus, charmingly re-presented by Locker to his second wife. The book remained in their library, known as the Rowfant Library after Locker’s home in Sussex, until the library was sold to an American bookseller in 1905 and dispersed.

4 volumes, foolscap octavo (166 102 mm). Contemporary reddish-brown morocco by Holloway, spines gilt-lettered in two compartments, others with gilt quatrefoil ornaments and small corner-pieces, boards ruled in gilt with a two-line fillet, board-edges gilt with a floral roll tool, turn-ins gilt with a palmette roll, gilt edges. Housed in a dark brown cloth slipcase. Bookplates of Frederick Locker. Spines a little darkened and gilt faded in places, sides a little marked in the grain, endpapers browned from turn-ins, still an excellent set.

Bibliography: Ashley I, 120-21; Barnes RB 19; Rowfant Library, p. 143 ("Presentation copy, with autograph inscription in each volume and autograph poems inserted in Vols 1 and 4"); Sterling 89; Tinker 425; Wise, Browning, pp. 27-8.

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