The Charge of the Light Brigade.[London]: 1855 Stock Code: 111544
NotesFirst separate edition, extremely scarce in this format, one of 1,000 copies published for distribution to the troops in the Crimea, with a note in manuscript at the foot of the mount: "My father Col. Adolphus Burton C.B. was in the Charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava. G.D.B. his eldest daughter, Grace, whose married name was Grace Denys-Burton" Major Adolphus William Desart Burton (c.1827-1882) rode in the successful charge of the Heavy Brigade with the 5th (The Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Regiment of Dragoon Guards. He later gained the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the service of the 7th Dragoon Guards.
The charge of the Light Brigade took place on 25 October 1854 but news of the disaster did not reach the British public until the British commanders' dispatches from the front were published in an extraordinary edition of the London Gazette of 12 November 1854; The Times followed up with a famous leader on the action the following day. According to his grandson Sir Charles Tennyson, Tennyson wrote the poem in only a few minutes after reading the account of it in The Times. Published in The Examiner on 9 December 1854, just six weeks after the event, Tennyson's poem was published as a separate piece and sent to the troops in the Crimea at the behest of Jane, Lady Franklin, wife of the lost explorer Sir John Franklin.
Tennyson adds a footnote to the poem: "Having heard that the brave soldiers before Sebastopol, whom I am proud to call my countrymen, have a liking for my Ballad on the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, I have ordered a thousand copies of it to be printed for them." The text contains 55 lines, as opposed to the 46-line text first published in book form in July 1855, in the volume Maud, and Other Poems, and incorporates an extra stanza. The most notable addition is the line "Some one had blunder'd" which was omitted from the book publication. These changes were explained by Tennyson in a letter to John Foster in August 1855: "I wish to send out about 1000 slips, and I don't at all want the S.P.G. Society for the Propagation of the Gospel or anyone to send out the version last printed: it would, I believe, quite disappoint the soldiers."
This is one of a very few surviving recorded copies of what is by nature an ephemeral piece: WorldCat locates four copies institutionally and only two copies appear in auction records since 1975. The poem remains probably the best remembered single piece of all Tennyson's poetry.
Bifolium with horizontal and vertical folds, tipped-in to a larger sheet. Text printed in black. Housed in a black flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.
Some occasional spotting and discolouration. In excellent condition.
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