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    Mary Shelley (Editor): Posthumous Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley. (London: Printed for John and Henry L. Hunt by C. H. Reynell, 1824), first edition, 413 pages, dark blue banded calf with gilt lettering on spine and gilt decoration on spine, boards, and edges of front and back pastedowns, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, 8vo (5.5" x 8.75"). In the preface, Mary explains her decision to include incomplete poems, translations and poems out of print, in many instances deciphering drafts and putting together "fragments of paper which in the hands of an indifferent person would never have been deciphered." To cultivate a new readership for P. B. Shelley, Mary decided that this first of her editions of his works would be "a specimen of how he could write without shocking any one-and afterwards an edition of the whole might be got up inserting any thing too shocking for this Vol." In other words, Posthumous Poems was a conscious initial act of public persuasion, much as a number of the prefaces to both Percy's and Mary's works ambiguously veil the radicalism of the work itself to draw in a resistant audience.

    500 copies of the first edition were printed and more than 300 copies were sold in two months time. Posthumous Poems has been credited with "the steady rise of interest in Shelley's poetry during the following years." Percy's father, Sir Timothy Shelley, however, demanded the suppression of the unsold copies and Mary's promise not to publish any more of his son's works during Sir Timothy's lifetime as requisite for the repayable allowance for Percy Florence's support. She resumed publishing P. B. Shelley's works 15 years later when Sir Timothy died. This copy is very good, with a .5" x .25" scuff at top center of front board, rubbing at the front and back of head of spine, and bottom edge of boards. Pencil notations on front flyleaf. Textblock is clean and tight. From the Betty Bennett Collection.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2007
    16th-17th Monday-Tuesday
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