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A Shropshire Lad
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co Ltd, London 1896 - First edition, hardback bound in the original paper covered boards with parchment spine and partial paper title label to spine. Pages untrimmed. 18 × 11.5cm. vii [1], 96pp. About the Book: A rare first edition of A E Housman's A Shropshire Lad, a wonderful collection of lyrical verse set against the background of the English countryside imbued with a melancholic sense of the transitoriness of youth and love, and reflecting on mortality with a nostalgic sense of loss. A Shropshire Lad is a cycle of sixty-three poems, including "From far, from eve and morning", "The Land of Lost Content", and "To an Athlete Dying Young". Written in 1895, A Shropshire Lad was originally titled The Poems of Terence Hearsay, believed to be Housman's name for Moses Jackson, a fellow student at Oxford and with whom Housman was in love. He struggled to find a publisher and had to finance its publication himself, but the title had to be changed. The book had little impact when it as published. Grant Richards took over the publication in 1898 and it grew in popularity during the Boer War 1899-1902. By the Great War, the book was in great demand and was printed by the thousands in pocket editions as it was a favourite with soldiers. It was by then an important work, and was set to music by Vaughan Williams and George Butterworth. Here is a sampler of that beautifully haunting melancholic verse: "Into my heart an air that kills / From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, / What spires, what farms are those? This is the land of lost content, / I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went, / And cannot come again." Condition: This is a heavily worn copy. The parchment spine is marked with a crack just below the label. The label is itself has loss as can be seen in the photograph. The boards are bumped and heavily scuffed to all edges. Internally, the binding is secure, as are the hinges. The pages are untrimmed and browned to the edges, and the endpapers, and title page are foxed. The main body of text is age-toned with light and occasional marking but generally sound. There is a lengthy inscription to the front pastedown from an Edward Jackson of Kingston on Thames and Hayling Island, stating that he ordered the book in July 1896, and he inscribed it on 31st July 1896. This followed by a pencilled note on how poetry speaks to the heart first. The pencil annotations continue, the owner has ticked several poems off from the contents page and again lightly ticked or crossed by the title of some of the poems through the book. Poem XLII (The Merry Guide) has a pencil note to read Kenneth Graham's The Golden Age. Page 34 sees an ink inscription "17 May 1900 Rupert Fawssett died Bloemfontein, S Africa, May 9 1900, Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps", as well as a pencilled name and date in the margin. Page 7 sees a marginal pencil annotation in which the owner suggests "beckon" for "beacon", and finally opposing the first page of text, he has written in pencil "Sixty years now, 20th June, 1897, Sunday, Kingston on Thames" in response to Housman's "Because 'tis fifty years to-night". Despite the lengthy description above, this book retains it charm and is basically sound. More images can be sent on request. Please see our website for further details and to contact us. [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Cox & Budge Books]
Last Found On: 2014-03-24           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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