Severn & Somme.

London: Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd, 1917 Stock Code: 135974

A very good copy of intriguing provenance

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First edition, first impression, of the author's first book, scarce in commerce. This is one of only two works published in Gurney's lifetime, this collection inspired by the poet's beloved Gloucestershire and written in large part while he was serving as a private with the 2nd/5th Gloucesters from May 1916. Wounded and gassed in September 1917 during the third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), "He spent time in various war hospitals in England and, after showing signs of mental instability (including a suicide attempt on 19 June 1918), he was finally discharged in October 1918. Gurney resumed his studies at the Royal College of Music, this time under Ralph Vaughan Williams, but could not concentrate. He returned to Gloucester and, failing to find permanent employment, had to live on a small disability pension and the charity of friends and family" (ODNB). However, Gurney was dogged with mental problems which culminated in his being committed to Barnwood House Asylum, Gloucester, and two months later the City of London Mental Hospital, near Dartford, where he died in 1937 at age 47.

Provenance: a most intriguing copy, the original red cloth boards entirely painted or inked in a funereal black and with Gurney's cut signature tipped to the front free endpaper ("Ivor Gurney, Royal College of Music", possibly from an autograph album). In addition, loosely inserted, are seven related press cuttings (including his poem "This City" published in The Gloucester Journal on Saturday 7 January 1922, a radio program for some of his songs, several obituaries, and a note of Gurney's funeral service at Twigworth Church, Gloucester). There is a small pencil landscape sketch at the foot of p 15, which carries the poem "The Fire Kindled", and a marginal mark in the advertisements at the end against F. W. Harvey's A Gloucestershire Lad; the front free endpaper bears the embossed stamp of Gloucester bookseller Fred J. Brooke. All of this indicates ownership by someone with a connection to Gloucester, following closely Gurney's career, and assiduously gathering material associated with the poet.

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Octavo. Original red cloth painted black, printed paper label to spine, border to board edges in blind.


2 pp. publisher's advertisement at end.


Two closed tears to spine head, extremities and spine label rubbed, occasional scattered foxing; a very good copy.


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