London: Stangeways and Walden, . Near Fine. First edition. A unique and most interesting offering - a scarce privately printed book accompanied by only recently published handwritten letters from Rossetti's brother, William Michael (the texts of the letters were published for the first time in "Notes and Queries," Oxford University Press, in January 17, 2011). This is a privately printed edition of a story that had first appeared in The Germ in 1850. Dante Gabriel Rossetti originally intended to include this prose story in his volume of verse, but decided not to following the recovery of his poetical manuscript notebook from the grave of his wife, Elizabeth Siddal. This short story offers a manifesto for the Aesthetic and Decadent movements. It tells the tale of a fictional Renaissance poet who realizes that the artist's only duty is to express what is in his soul. This pamphlet is an offprint from the typesetting found in proofs produced between October 30 and November 25 1869. William Rossetti notes when his brother excluded the story from his published verse he had various copies of Hand and Soul done up in drab wrappers, and that he gave some away but never sold them. Both Thomas Wise and Charles Fairfax Murray state, without citing any authority, that one hundred copies were printed. About thirty can now be accounted for. All but a handful are in institutional collections, most deriving from a cache discovered by William after Dante Gabriel's death in 1882. William Michael Rossetti sent this copy to an admirer of his family, Louisa Douglas Summerbell. She was an artist and illuminator much influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites. Rossetti has inscribed the book "To Miss L. Douglas Summerbell with the friendly regards of Wm. Rossetti June 1896." Written above this in William's hand is a six-line explanation of the pamphlet's publishing history. Bound in are five important signed autograph letters, seventeen pages in all, from William Rossetti to Miss Summerbell, written between 1896 and 1906, in which he discusses at length the writings of Dante Gabriel, Christina and himself. In original buff printed wrappers that Summerbell had neatly sewn into limp green cloth along with the letters and laid into a beautiful 19th-century handmade leather case showing some rubbing. On the preliminary leaf of the cloth bound book is a note that it had passed to her friend, Ruth Johnston. From the celebrated poetry collection of Gerald N. Wachs and included in an exhibition of his collection at the Grolier Club in 1995. Pamphlet in very good collection bound into near fine cloth book.
(Inventory #: 29652)
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