First Edition of Oscar Wilde's
Oscar Wilde. Ravenna. Recited in the Theatre, Oxford,
June 26, 1878. Oxford: Thos. Shrimpton and Son, 1878.
Newdigate Prize Poem. First edition. Octavo. 16 pages. In grey
paper wrappers with information from the title page printed in
black. University coat-of-arms on both front of wrapper and title
page, distinguishing it from the facsimile edition issued by Wright
& Jones in 1904 (Mason, 301). Head- and tail-pieces, and
decorated first initial. Housed in custom made red cloth lined book
box quarter bound in black leather and textured black paper over
boards, gilt title to front cover, leather spine label with gilt
title, and gilt date at foot. Paper wrappers are slightly faded and
lightly foxed, minor rubbing to the corners and spine at head and
foot, wrappers and pages lightly creased, small book dealer pencil
marks to upper left corner of front cover's verso, otherwise a very
good copy of a fragile first in a lovely box. From the
Collection of Ellis MacGregor Pryce-Jones.
First Separately Published Work
Please visit HA.com/6117 for an extended description of this lot.
"This edition [of Ravenna] was published by Thomas Shrimpton & Son as the winner of the Newdigate Prize, an award given to an Oxford undergraduate for the best submitted poem to the Newdigate competition. As winner of this competition, Wilde was invited to recite the poem in the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford in front of Oxford faculty. Ravenna was published and handed out to those present much like a Playbill is today. This work is important for three primary reasons: it was Oscar Wilde's first published work outside pamphlet form, it is an example of the type of ephemera printers and publishers used to supplement book sales, and it is an example of the unique role of printing at Oxford University in the mid to late nineteenth century."
-Jocelyn Lewis, "Essay" from Rare Book History website. http://rarebookhistory.umwblogs.org/book/ravenna-recited-in-the-theatre-oxford-june-26-1878/
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