A Boy's WillLondon, David Nutt, 1913 Stock Code: 122696
NotesFirst edition of Frost's first published book, inscribed by Frost on the blank facing the first printed poem with the then-unpublished 12-line poem "The Same Leaves" written out, signed, and addressed "For Martha Shanner, July 1927". Frost has also signed both the front cover and the title page, both retrospectively dated May 1913. The copy is accompanied by an autograph letter signed from Frost to Shanner (including the envelope, addressed in Frost's hand to her in New York), written from South Shaftsbury, VT, 15 December, in which he writes, "Thanks for asking, but there's no book of mine to be expected for some time yet. The poem I wrote out for you hadn't been published I believe when I wrote it. It has since appeared in The London Mercury. I mean The Same Leaves." The poem was there retitled "In Hardwood Groves", but had originally been intended by Frost for inclusion in A Boy's Will. It didn't appear in book form until his 1930 Collected Poems, and its pre-publication appearance here constitutes an interesting editorial intervention by the poet.
The poetry collection A Boy's Will was the first published book of Robert Frost. He was then nearing 40 and, although he had written much, had not found a conducive publisher in America. He had moved to London in 1912, hoping to find a scene more receptive to new poetic voices, and, with the support of F. S. Flint and other sympathetic Imagists such as Ezra Pound, managed to secure a deal with David Nutt, who printed 1,000 copies of A Boy's Will. Only about 350 copies were issued by Nutt, who went bankrupt shortly after the war and sold the remainder stock to Simpkin & Marshall. Frost in the meantime had returned to America at the outbreak of the war, and, bolstered by his London publication and its rave reviews penned by his Imagist friends, achieved the American beginning of his meteoric poetic career with an edition of A Boy's Will published by Henry Holt in 1915. The Nutt edition is however the true first printing.
The remainder, approximately 650 copies, were subsequently reissued in a variety of bindings, of which this is the earliest. It is the first American issue, sold by Dunster House, Cambridge, MA, from 1923.
Octavo. Original wrappers, titles in black to front. Housed in red cloth flat-back box by the Chelsea Bindery.
Wrappers pulling a little from text block spine inside front hinge, and externally a few minor marks, but a very good copy.,
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