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Keats Shelley & Rome
London: Christopher Johnson, published on behalf of the Keats Shelley Memorial Association,, 1949. An Illustrated Miscellany. Compiled by Neville Rogers. Postscript by Field Marshall Earl Wavell. Octavo. Original brown cloth, titles to front board gilt. With the dust jacket. 10 illustrated plates (two of which are first published in this volume, one of the drawing of Keats by Haydon and one a photograph of the then recently discovered Keats death mask). Corners and board edges lightly rubbed and marked, small loss at head of spine, internally clean. An excellent copy in the rubbed, chipped and lightly spotted jacket with a defective spine panel. First edition, first impression of this anthology memorialising Shelley and Keats, put together by Shelley scholar Neville Rogers. Rogers was a friend of Vera Cacciatore (1911-2004), who was curator of Keats-Shelley House from 1933 (aged only 21) to 1976. This is poet and political activist Nancy Cunard's copy, with her ownership inscription on the front pastedown, "N - / Rome, Dec 31, 1956 - on leaving my pages in the Keats, Shelley, Byron Memorial, with Vera Cacciatore, "To add my Leaf"." Cunard befriended Cacciatore when in Rome, and, as described in the inscription, visited Keats-Shelley House (on her last day in Rome before travelling on to Spain) to contribute a piece of writing to the museum's archives. This copy includes a typescript copy (signed and marked "Own Copy") of this text, which is a 4 page lyrical recount of Cunard's lucid dreams, the last of which is of Keats himself, which came to her when a girl of 15: "Keats stood beside me, romantic and beautiful in face and dress and bearing. He spoke -- how gently -- yet what were the words? His meaning, I knew -- clear, repeated and insistent -- was that I should write, that I should be a poet. And as I gazed at him trembling, he gave me a ring, putting it on the fourth finger of my right hand. It was a pink topaze set in gold, of his own time. I see the form, the ineffably crystal light of it yet -- a dawn, all concentrated and held within a stone -- a symbol and, somehow a... consecration. And then I awoke in tears, greatly marvelling." Cunard continues, ending the piece with an envoi: "Thus, to the treasure of this house I offer my small leaf -- foglia dell'albero universale -- and leave it here today, December 31, 1956, with love, and with a tear." The typescript had, pasted to the verso of the final leaf, Cunard's ticket for entering the museum. This marvellous set also includes several postcards from the Museum, one of which (a drawing by Keats of the Graecian Urn - the Sosibios Vase from from the Musée Napoléon) is inscribed by Cacciatore on the verso, "A Nancy Cunard, per ricordo di Keats, Vera Cacciatore, 27 Decembre 1956", and also includes an autograph letter signed from Cacciatore to Cunard, dated May 14th 1957, in affectionate broken English thanking her for a review on Byron, and fondly expressing hopes to see her again, "We remember you with affection and sympathy and we do hope that you are coming again. But I am afraid Spain is winning Italy, in your interest... With my best wishes, for your work, for your travels, Yours ever, Vera Cacciatore". An extraordinarily evocative collection.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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