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SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe.

The Cenci.

A Tragedy, in Five Acts.

[Livorno,] Italy, for C. and J. Ollier, London, 1819 Stock Code: 111620

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First edition, one of 250 copies printed, the Britwell Court Library copy, fine and uncut preserving the original first blank; scarce in commerce, with the second, London edition (the only second edition of his own Shelley lived to see) more usually encountered. Shelley's verse tragedy proved an unexpected sensation on publication despite its action being far too lurid for the London stage. He been fascinated by the story of Beatrice Cenci and Guido's portrait of her in the Colunna palace at Rome, and originally intended the latter to be copied as a frontispiece for this book. He worked exceptionally fast on his version of the tragedy, starting in May and ending in August of his annus mirabilis, the same year he wrote Prometheus Unbound, The Masque of Anarchy, and the "Ode to the West Wind". The book is excellently produced, handsomely printed on thick laid paper: "It has a few errors of the press incidental to the Italian compositors' ignorance of English but on the whole it seems to me a preferable text to the second edition - a text more like the absolute production of Shelley" (Forman).

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Octavo. Finely bound by Bedford c.1900 in green full morocco, gilt.


With original first blank.


Some spotting to front cover, internally a fine copy, uncut. Collatio and provenance note initialled by Wakefield Christie-Miller, 1878 (Britwell).


Forman, p. 56; Granniss, 50; Wise, p. 51.


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