July 31, 2017

We are delighted to announce that two major new acquisitions have been made by the Keats-Shelley Memorial Association for the collection of the House in Rome. 

The first is a manuscript of John Keats’s poem 'Song / In drear nighted December' (c.1817) in the hand of his close friend John Hamilton Reynolds.

The manuscript was long considered to be autograph since Reynolds's handwriting closely resembles that of Keats. It reveals a number of textual variants from the standard edition of the published poem, which presumably originate with the poet himself and which Jack Stillinger first analysed in his 1978 edition of Keats’s Poems.

The poem, an early production in which the reader will recognize Keats’s authorship by virtue of its rhythm, subject, and language, was first published in 1829 in The Literary Gazette.

The second acquisition is Lord Byron’s copy of the first Barnes edition of the poems of Anacreon (1705), inscribed to him by Leigh Hunt, with the front and rear blanks bearing nine original autograph translations by Hunt (seven from Anacreon himself).

Byron and Hunt were close friends in these early years, with the former frequently visiting Hunt during his imprisonment. The inscription makes this out to be a farewell gift on the eve of Byron’s final departure from England to Italy in 1816.

This copy was not among the books sold at Byron’s April 1816 auction. It is apparent from the catalogue that, though Byron had seen fit to dispose of two other editions of Anacreon, he seems to have kept Hunt’s gift and taken it with him to Continental Europe.

We are grateful to the Friends of the National Libraries for their generous assistance in the acquisition of Byron’s copy of Anacreon. 

Ph Byron And Leigh Hunt   Anacreon Teius 3