Book Description


Octavo (175 x 107mm), pp. [8 (half-title, publisher’s device on verso, title, verso blank, dedication, verso blank, contents, verso blank)], 201, [1 (imprint)], [2 (final blank l.)]. (A few light spots and marks, some light creasing on margins.) Original green cloth, spine lettered in gilt, uncut. (Light offsetting and spotting on endpapers, extremities very lightly rubbed and slightly bumped.) A very good, fresh copy in the original cloth, retaining final blank O6.
Dealer Notes
First edition, [?]first issue with half-title set in three lines and without electrotype symbol on p. [1]. Tennyson’s ‘Locksley Hall’ was first published in his two-volume Poems of 1842, and he returned to it in ‘Locksley Hall Sixty Years After’, a poem which Peter Levi described as ‘a passionate explosion’, which contains echoes of William Blake’s ‘London’ in passages such as this:

‘Is it well that while we range with Science, glorying in the Time,
City children soak and blacken soul and sense in city slime?
There among the glooming alleys Progress halts on palsied feet,
Crime and hunger cast our maidens by the thousand on the street.
There the Master scrimps his haggard sempstress of her daily bread,
There a single sordid attic holds the living and the dead.
There the smouldering fire of fever creeps across the rotted floor,
And the crowded couch of incest in the warrens of the poor’ (pp. 30-31)

Indeed, Levi wrote that ‘I do not recollect any indictment of the Victorian age that is more terrible. Gladstone felt bound to reply to it. The dangerous pages are few, and of course it is only a poem, though it drops the mask of fiction: it has not the slow, awful, judgemental pace of London Labour and the London Poor. But it is stronger than anything by Dickens, or Thackeray, or Engels. [...] The poem is devastating’ (Tennyson (London, 1993), pp. 308-309).

Locksley Hall Sixty Years After Etc. was published in December 1886, and, apart from the title poem, it contains the poems ‘The Fleet’ and ‘Opening of the Indian and Colonial Exhibition by the Queen’, and the drama ‘The Promise of May’. This copy has the half-title set over three lines, reading ‘LOCKSLEY HALL / AND / THE PROMISE OF MAY’, which is believed to precede the four-line setting of the title reading ‘LOCKSLEY HALL / SIXTY YEARS AFTER / AND / THE PROMISE OF MAY’ (this was presumably amended to avoid the misapprehension that the volume was a reprint of Tennyson’s earlier poem).

Colbeck, A Bookman’s Catalogue, p. 841; Shepherd, Bibliography of Tennyson, pp. 62-63 (misdated 1887); Wise, Tennyson, I, 156.

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Author TENNYSON, Alfred, Baron TENNYSON
Date 1886
Publisher London: R. & R. Clark for Macmillan and Co.

Price: £39.50

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