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HEMANS, Felicia.

Records of Woman:

With other poems.

Edinburgh, William Blackwood; and T. Cadell, London, 1828 Stock Code: 135673
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First edition of the author's best-known and most personal work, into which she believed she "had put her heart and individual feelings more than in anything else she had written" (Hughes, p. 136).
Hemans (1793-1835) was one of the most influential and widely read poets of the 19th century. Written at the height of her career, Records of Woman went through four British and several American editions in the six years after publication, and supported Hemans's family financially for a number of years. The verse volume, which is dedicated to fellow author Joanna Baillie, opens with a series of 19 poems, each focussed on female protagonists drawn from history and contemporary life - some are prominent figures, like Properzia de' Rossi, Joan of Arc, and Arabella Stuart, but many are relatively unknown or entirely anonymous ("The American Forest-Girl", "Indian Woman's Death Song"). The section closes with one of the collection's three personal lyrics, "The Grave of a Poetess". The remainder of the volume comprises "Miscellaneous Pieces", including some of Hemans's most famous poems, such as "The Homes of England" and "The Graves of a Household". "Recently interest has revived in Hemans as a female voice within Romanticism, and as a vehicle for bourgeois, domestic, and British hegemony that nevertheless also critiques the very values and ideals for which her work became a byword. Recognition of her as a major poetic voice has accompanied a substantial shift in the understanding of British Romanticism" (Orlando).

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Duodecimo (164 x 104 mm). Contemporary greyish-brown oblique-grain roan, red spine label, compartments elaborately tooled in gilt with floral motifs, scrollwork fillets to spine ends and raised bands, sides with gilt single fillet enclosing an anthemion roll frame, blind triple fillet panel with corner rosettes, blind ornamental cornerpieces, gilt lyre centrepiece, pale primrose-coated endpapers, gilt turn-ins and edges.


Ownership signature, "D. Hallam[?]", in pencil to front free endpaper. A very attractively bound copy, the gilt particularly bright. Spine ends and corners lightly worn with small chip to head of rear joint, one small area of worming to rear board, the very occasional mark to contents.


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