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JOYCE, James.

Chamber Music.

London: Elkin Mathews, 1907 Stock Code: 140266
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Inscribed on his card, "As you were kind enough to write me often about my book"

First edition, first impression, in the first issue binding, presentation copy with Joyce's inscribed card inserted. The inscription reads: "Dear Mr Simson, As you were kind enough to write me often about my book."

Theodore Spicer-Simson was an American medallist, painter, sculptor and illustrator. Born in Le Havre, he first met Joyce in Paris in 1903. Two letters to him from Joyce are printed in Ellmann's edition of the Letters. The first was written in 1910 when Joyce was correcting the proofs of Dubliners, apologising for not being able to attend an evening in honour of Laurence Sterne. The second was in 1922 in reply to Spicer-Simson's request for a sitting for a medallion to be reproduced in his Men of Letters of the British Isles, New York 1924.

On 8 June 1910, Joyce wrote to Simson, apologising for missing him on a brief trip to Paris, adding: "I enclose some extracts of press reviews of a book of my verses which came out in London some three years ago. I regret that it is so incomplete as I forgot to have the later ones added." The enclosure was the leaflet "Press Notices of Chamber Music", which Joyce had printed in Trieste in spring 1910. It is a reasonable assumption that this prompted Simson to ask where he might procure a copy of Joyce's poetry, evidently unknown to him until that date, and Joyce sent him this copy with his card. The book Joyce refers to in his inscription is probably Dubliners.

The publishing history of Chamber Music is well documented but has some lacunae. The book was published on 10 May 1907 in an edition of 500 copies, but Mathews did not bind all copies at once. There have been various guesses as to how many he first bound. It was probably somewhere between the 205 copies which he accounted for in July 1908 and 300, the threshold after which Joyce was due a royalty. In Trieste, Joyce set about selling or giving away copies himself; he distributed 64 copies between 7 September 1909 and February 1913. This burst of activity prompted Mathews to bind up some of the remaining sheets in or about 1911. The earliest copy we can trace of the second issue inscribed by Joyce is dated 25 October 1911, though he had at least one copy of the first issue still on hand a year later.

This first issue is the largest of the three (162 x 110 mm), in a slightly lighter shade of green cloth, and has thick laid endpapers with horizontal chain lines and the poems in signature C well centred on the page. The second and third issues are each trimmed slightly smaller, and the poems in signature C are consequently poorly centred (that is, the upper and lower margins are unequal). The second variant has thick wove endpapers, the third has thin wove transparent endpapers.

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Small octavo. Original green cloth, spine and front cover lettered in gilt. With the original glassine. Housed in green morocco slipcase and chemise.


Illustrated title page.


Glassine chipped. Very light foxing to edges and contents, still a near-fine copy, the cloth clean, bright, and fresh.


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