SWINBURNE, Algernon Charles.

Poems and Ballads.

London: Edward Moxon & Co., 1866 Stock Code: 136507
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The rare first issue - "Established Swinburne as not only the leading new poet of the day but an international icon for progressive thinkers"

First edition, first issue (with Moxon imprint), first state with Wise's textual errors uncorrected, of the most sensationally controversial book of English poetry of its century, its contents being a heady mix of sadomasochism, necrophilia, egalitarianism, and blasphemy. "It was a dazzling collection. Swinburne had developed an original poetic voice, lyrical and possessed of an energy only matched in the period by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and written in a marvellous variety of stanza forms and metres The book was learned and cosmopolitan in outlook. It established Swinburne as not only the leading new poet of the day but an international icon for progressive thinkers. In the late 1860s and 1870s Swinburne's very name seemed a trumpet blast for those who wanted a more liberal, less puritanical society" (ODNB). The first reviews, on 4 April, were hostile, and Moxon, frightened by rumours of imminent prosecution, withdrew the book from sale the very next day.

The book was reissued by John Camden Hotten later in the year with their imprint, which is the issue usually found. Swinburne corrected various errata while the book was in print, leading to corrected and uncorrected sheets, this being the former, but the variant sheets were apparently issued together, and Hotten also bound up some uncorrected sheets for their issue. "It is doubtful whether many unaltered copies of the book got into circulation. Even with the Moxon title and the corrected leaves the book is by no means common. But an absolutely genuine example, with every leaf excepting N.3 in the original state as here - N3 is always cancelled is of extreme rarity, and is very seldom to be met with" (Wise, p. 115).

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Octavo. Original green cloth, spine lettered in gilt, covers panelled in blind with publisher's monogram in blind to front cover. Housed in a custom green cloth chemise within green half morocco slipcase, green cloth sides, spine lettered in gilt.


With 8pp. of publisher's advertisements inserted at front, as issued, the text of the advertisements conforming to Wise's first issue point.


With the bookplate to the front pastedown of Edward Joseph Dent (1876-1957), British writer on music, and the loosely inserted bookplate, designed by Rockwell Kent, of Robert J. Hamershlag (1894-1973), sometime governor of the New York Stock Exchange. Hinges split though holding, very minor rubbing to joints, very faint stain at head of first few leaves, otherwise a bright, clean copy.


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