A Boy's Will.London: David Nutt, 1913 Stock Code: 146535
An exceptional presentation copy of Frost's first bookFirst edition, first impression, of Frost's first published book, an exceptional presentation copy, inscribed by him to fellow Dymock poet Wilfrid W. Gibson on the front free endpaper, "W.W.G. from R.F. Sept. 1913", perhaps on the occasion they first met, when Frost gave a poetry reading at Harold Monro's newly-opened Poetry Bookshop.
When A Boy's Will was published in March 1913, Gibson was a poet of some standing and Frost a relative unknown; the two had not yet met, though Frost had read Gibson's Daily Bread (1910) and Fires (1912) with keen interest. Gibson wrote to Frost, inviting him to come to the Poetry Bookshop with some of his new poems. Frost gave a poetry reading there on 18 September, and the occasion inspired Gibson's poem "The First Meeting". In it, Gibson suggests that Frost "had presented his poems to him unsolicited" (Francis, p. 80). "By Christmas 1913, Frost had come to believe that 'Gibson is my best friend... He's just one of the plain folks with none of the marks of the literary poseur about him - none of the wrongheadedness of the porfessional literary men'" (ibid.). The following year Gibson convinced Frost to move to Dymock, and was key in connecting him to the other Dymock poets: Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas, John Drinkwater, and Lascelles Abercrombie; immediately before the move, Frost wrote to Sidney Marsh confessing "I have no friend here like Wilfrid Gibson" (March 1914).
Of roughly 1,000 copies of the first edition, approximately 280 were issued by Nutt in bindings "A" (as in the present copy) and "B" (bound in cream boards), before the company went into bankruptcy after the First World War. Copies in the first issue in the primary binding are uncommon, and presentation copies of such literary magnitude are rare.
Provenance: Wilfrid W. Gibson (1878-1962); William E. Stockhausen (sold at Sothebys, 14 December 1974, lot 704).
Octavo. Original bronze pebbled cloth, front cover lettered in gilt, edges untrimmed. Housed in a custom cloth chemise and slipcase by James MacDonald, New York.
A near-fine copy, spine lightly faded, tips a touch rubbed, contents very lightly foxed, else clean.
Crane A2; Robert Frost, Robert Frost 100, 1974. Lesley Lee Francis, Robert Frost: An Adventure in Poetry, 1900-1918, Taylor & Francis, 2017.
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