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Songs of Innocence, Keynes (1921) Copy U, Keynes-Wolf (1953) Copy U

This copy of Songs of Innocence, in the Houghton Library, Harvard University (see Newsletter 19, p. 214, and Newsletter 24, p. 96) requires, perhaps, just one more note to present it properly to contemporary students of Blake. Physical examination of the volume as it now exists reveals the following details to be added to the standard bibliographical descriptions cited above:

  1. pl. 29, the first of two plates of “The Little Black Boy.” For this copy two pulls were made from this plate. Consequently two leaves for pl. 29 appear in this copy. The leaves were not numbered by Blake, but numbers in pencil have been added in the upper right-hand corners of the leaves. Because of the extra print of or pull from pl. 29, these numbers run from 1-32, not from 1-31 as the bibliographies cited above declare.

  2. Included in this copy, but unnoticed in either of the bibliographies cited in my title are three leaves from Songs of Experience numbered in pencil in the upper right-hand corners 1a, 2a, 3a. These are:

    1. Experience pl. 29,1 1 The Keynes-Wolf Census uses one set of plate numbers for extant copies of Songs of Innocence (p. 9) and another set of plate numbers for extant copies of Songs of Innocence and of Experience (p. 50). A certain amount of confusion will always arise in referring to the plates of individual poems in Songs of Innocence. One must be careful always to indicate whether one is citing the plate number for a poem of Innocence as it appears in the single anthology (Innocence only) or in the double anthology (Innocence and Experience): For example, Keynes-Wolf number the plate for “A Dream” 4 in the former and 26 in the latter; they number the two plates for “The Little Black Boy” 29 and 30 in the former and 9 and 10 in the latter. Title page to Experience on which is written in pencil: “Taken in 1838: From the original plates in possession of Mr. Tatham.”

    2. Experience pl. 30, “Introduction” to Experience.

    3. Experience pl. 37, “The Chimney Sweeper” of Experience.

  3. Also originally bound into this copy are many leaves containing excerpts from the “Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales with modernized versions on facing leaves.

A corrected description of this copy of Songs of Innocence reads as follows: 2 Material in square brackets is either a correction of or an addition to the bibliographic description in the Keynes-Wolf Census (pp. 17-18).

U 31 plates on [32]2 leaves. Watermark WHATMAN, on one leaf. Printed in black. Uncoloured. Formerly arranged: 2, 1, 3, 10-11, 29-30, 9, 22, 28, 13, 14, 8, 20, 21, 16-17, 27, 24, 18-19, 12, 23, 25-26, 31, 4, 15, 5-7. Size: 19 × 11.7 cm. Now loose in binding together with the Descriptive Catalogue, 1809, and the Canterbury Pilgrims, 1812; fly-leaf with watermark dated 1818. [Uncoloured prints of pls. 29, 30, 37 of Songs of Experience bound in after Songs of Innocence. The following notation in pencil appears on pl. 29 (Experience), Title page to Experience: “Taken in 1838: From the original plates in possession of Mr. Tatham.” Excerpts from Chaucer’s “Prologue” with modernized texts facing the originals have also been bound into this copy.]

Formerly in the possession of Robert Balmanno, an English journalist, who emigrated to New York. He had been friendly with Stothard and Fuseli and other artists who knew Blake, and may have had the books direct from him. Afterwards in the collection of E.W. Hooper, of Boston. Reproduced in 1883 by Little, Brown, and Co. For many years in begin page 89 | back to top the possession of Hooper’s daughter, Mrs. Greely S. Curtis, Jr., of Boston, and given by her sister, Mrs. Ward Thoron to the Houghton Library, Harvard University, in 1951 in memory of her father.

Further pencil notations, that are not necessarily essential to the physical description of Copy U, appear as follows:

  1. On the verso of pl. 3 “Introduction” to Innocence appears the following notation: “Typ 6500 (50-208-210)”.

  2. Inside the front cover is a history of the ownership of this copy.

  3. On the verso of pl. 21 (“The Little Boy found”) appears the notation: “H.D. Chapin 60 Beacon St. Boston High 3-4 40 inches - 11246”.

  4. On p. 30 of the Descriptive Catalogue in the margin opposite “H—says” in the text appears the name, “Hoppner”.

  5. On p. 32 of the Descriptive Catalogue in the margin opposite “Mr. S—” appears the name, “Stothard”.

  6. On the end paper appears the note: “A copy of the/Descriptive Catalogue of 1809/Sold in the Beckford Libry/Hamilton Palace Sale for £9/E.W.H.”

One does not know when the pages of this copy became loose. They may have been loosened sometime between 1921 and 1953. The extra leaf for “The Little Black Boy” may have been inserted after Keynes originally described this copy, but it is unlikely. Similarly, the three leaves from Experience may have been added subsequent to 1921, again unlikely. If the three leaves from Experience were actually added to this copy in 1838 or shortly thereafter, as the pencil note indicates, the pages of this copy may have been loosened before Keynes originally described it in 1921.

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