“A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.” First edition, first issue of Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley; one of fewer than 500 copies printed and 300 copies sold
Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. Edited and with a Preface by Mary Shelley.$2,800.00
Item Number: 95137
London: Printed for John and Henry L. Hunt, 1824.
First edition, first issue of this collection edited and with a preface by Mary Shelley, containing the first publication of much of Shelley’s work. Octavo, bound in three quarters morocco over marbled boards, raised gilt bands. One of fewer than 500 copies printed and fewer than 300 actually sold before Mary Shelley reluctantly complied to Shelley’s father’s demands that she publish nothing more about his son during his own lifetime. From the library of Virginia bibliophile and historian Christopher Clark Geest with his bookplate to the pastedown. Housed in a custom half morocco box. Rare and desirable.
The publication of Shelley's Posthumous Poems marked the beginning of his wife Mary Shelley's "campaign to make the world appreciate Shelley's genius and personal virtues" after his untimely death. Edited and with a preface by Mary, the book "included 65 unpublished poems, 13 out of print, and five translations. [Mary's] preface went straight to the point of Shelley's ill repute: 'his fearless enthusiasm in the cause which he considered the most sacred upon earth, the improvement of the moral and physical state of mankind, was the chief cause why he, like other illustrious reformers, was pursued by hatred and calumny…' Posthumous Poems accomplished what Mary Shelley intended: before it, Shelley's immorality, destructiveness, and incomprehensibility were legendary, and he was largely unread; upon its publication there was a surge of interest as he seemed at once more accessible and admirable… The age would seize upon Shelley" (Sunstein, 257). The volume includes the first appearance of Julian and Maddalo and The Witch of Atlas, the Epistle to Maria Gisborne, and the first appearance of some of Shelley's most widely known lyrics - To Night, Lines to an Indian Air, and Music When Soft Voices Die.