BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett.

Prometheus Bound.

Translated from the Greek of Æschylus. And Miscellaneous Poems, by the Translator, Author of "An Essay on Mind," with Other Poems.

London: A. J. Valpy, M. A. 1833 Stock Code: 149397
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"A sin of my youth"

First edition, first impression, of Browning's first translation of Prometheus Bound, a poem which would occupy her for the next 20 years, in which period she established herself as a major literary figure. OCLC and Library Hub trace just 5 copies in institutions world-wide.

"Shortly after its publication, Barrett expressed reservations on the grounds that it was a literal translation and therefore did not do justice to Aeschylus's or English poetry" (Drummond, p. 507). Her second effort, published 17 years later, appeared in the middle of her first volume of Poems (1850) with the following advertisement: "one failure, a translation of the Prometheus of Aeschylus, which, though happily free of the current publication, may be remembered against me by a few of my personal friends, I have replaced by an entirely new version, made for them and my conscience, in expiation of a sin of my youth, with the sincerest application of my mature mind" (Drummond, p. 509). Regardless of Browning's disparagement of her first translation, the production of an accurate translation of Aeschylus by a 27 year old woman with no university training "remains an extraordinary feat" (ODNB).

This copy has a pencil poem to the verso of the final leaf, evidently an unpublished composition by a previous owner, inspired by Barrett's verse.

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Duodecimo. Original blue moire effect cloth backed boards, paper title label to spine, some leaves uncut.


Spine sunned with some light wear to extremities, a little bumped and soiled with pale dampstain to rear cover, gutter split to p. 73 but holding firm, occasional light spot of foxing but a very good copy, internally clean.


Clara Drummond, "A 'Grand Possible' Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Translations of Aeschylus's 'Prometheus Bound'", International Journal of the Classic Tradition, 2006, available online.


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