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“Blake’s Corrections in POETICAL SKETCHES”: A Forthcoming Supplement and the Britwell Court Library Copy

In the “Prolegomenon” appended to my recent article on Blake’s corrections in Poetical Sketches (Blake Newsletter, 4 [Fall 1970], 46), I drew attention to the fact that the present locations of several original copies remained unknown, at least to me. The response to my request for assistance in locating these copies was immediate and generous (though still incomplete), and the information supplied in particular by Professor G. E. Bentley, Jr., has been especially helpful. Arrangements are now being made to inspect these copies for Blake’s corrections and a supplement to my article will be published in a forthcoming number of the Blake Newsletter.

Immediately following publication of my article in hitherto unrecorded copy of Poetical Sketches appeared in auction at Sotheby’s on 29 March 1971 in the sale of the Britwell Court Library. The Britwell Court Library copy was described as follows in the Sotheby Catalogue:

34 BLAKE (WILLIAM) POETICAL SKETCHES. By W. B., First Edition, with the final blank, olive straight-grained morocco gilt, t.e.g., uncut, By Frances Bedford [Hayward 192; Rothschild 413; Keynes 26], A Fine Copy 8vo 1783

* * * This copy is not recorded by Lowery, A census of copies of William Blake’s “Poetical Sketches” (The Library, December 1936, p. 354 et seq.), where 22 or possibly 23 copies are listed.

The earliest of Blake’s poetical works, and, except for the first book of The French Revolution, the only one printed in ordinary type.
A photographic facsimile of the titlepage is given in the Catalogue facing the description.

The Britwell Court Library copy was purchased by John Fleming of New York (lot 34 @ £3,800) on behalf of The Pierpont Morgan Library. The following description of the copy was supplied to me by Douglas C. Ewing of that Library in a letter of 17 May 1971:

This copy bears no manuscript corrections, and there is no indication of ownership before the Britwell Court Library; it is bound in olive morocco in a style typical begin page 149 | back to top of many of the bindings commissioned by S. R. Christie-Miller, and bears the Brit-well-shelf-mark 8.D at the top of the blank binder’s leaf and 87.E.3 at the foot of that leaf. The copy is untrimmed, measuring 8 ¾ × 5 ½ inches, and contains the genuine terminal blank leaf.

I am grateful to Sotheby’s and to both Mr. Fleming and Mr. Ewing for the information leading to the composition of this note.

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