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THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Thomas B. Mosher, Portland, Maine 1904 - mm (). 3 p.l., 33, [1] pp., [1] leaf (colophon). No. 9 OF 10 COPIES ON VELLUM signed by the publisher (of a total edition of 110). Publisher's limp vellum, flat spine lettered in gilt. In a green cloth portfolio with silk ribbon ties. Bishop 13. Faint soiling to covers, perhaps a third of the leaves slightly yellow (as often with vellum printings), otherwise very fine, especially fresh and clean inside and out. This is the strictly limited luxury version of the Mosher edition of Wilde's long poem in six-line rhymed stanzas, written in France in 1897 after Wilde's release from jail in Reading. Indebted to Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and Housman's "Shropshire Lad," it is generally considered to be Wilde's greatest poem. The title page identifies the author as "C.3.3.," Wilde's prisoner number based on his location in block C, floor three, cell three. The work is written in memory of Charles Thomas Wooldridge, a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards who was executed in 1896 for killing his wife in a jealous rage. It takes the viewpoint of an imprisoned man observing a fellow inmate who is to be hanged. Day says that the poem's theme is "society's cruelty in inflicting of punishment without understanding." The poem makes it clear that "the greatest pain is the one the wrongdoer suffers within himself." Despite the stigma attached to Wilde at the time (or perhaps because of the publicity related to his infamy), the poem was a considerable commercial success. It also was hailed by the critics as a successful change in direction in Wilde's poetry, characterized by a much greater expression of sincerity. Of private press publisher Thomas B. Mosher (1852-1923), Blumenthal says that he was "the first American to have established a sustained program . . . of splendid literary output in consistently felicitous typographic form." The books he produced between 1891 and 1923 were characterized by "fine paper, good workmanship, and an unassuming and quiet typographic elegance," a succinct summation of Mosher books in general and this attractive edition in particular. No. 9 OF 10 COPIES ON VELLUM signed by the publisher (of a total edition of 110). [Attributes: Signed Copy; Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Phillip J. Pirages Rare Books (ABAA)]
Last Found On: 2015-10-05           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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