DigitalDonne: the Online Variorum

Bibliographical Description of the 1654 Prose Letters

LETTERS [Wing D 1865] first edition, second issue (TxAM copy)             4° 1654

Title: Letters to Severall Persons Of Honour: . . . London, Printed by J. Flesher, and are to be sold by John Sweeting, at the Angel in Popeshead-Alley.  1654. (See  title page.)

Collation: A4 B–Z4; 164 leaves.

Contents: A1r blank; A1v frontispiece; A2 title; A3rA4v The Epistle Dedicatory To the most virtuous and excellent Lady Mris. Bridget Dunch signed Jo. Donne [jun.]; B1r-Ss3v (pp. 1-318) text; Ss4 blank. (See Index of Letters.)

Frontispiece: A bust of Donne at the age of 49 within an oval, 12 x 9.5 cm, engraved by Pieter Lombart after the oil-painting now at the Deanery of St. Paul's.  The whole engraving measures 15.5 x 10 cm, and is inscribed on a cloth hanging beneath the portrait.  The engraving is signed at the right-hand bottom corner:  Lombart sculp. A londre. (See frontispiece.)

Notes: (1) This issue is constituted of the same sheets as in the 1651 Letters (Wing D 1864), with cancel title-page.

(2) Purchased by Cushing Library when the library of I. A. Shapiro was auctioned in London in December of 2004, the copy of the Letters here exhibited was owned in the 19th-century by the Donne afficionado and collector Rev. T. R. O’Flahertie, whose abundant annotations—as well as those of Shapiro and others—are evident in the end papers, margins, and numerous interleavings dispersed throughout the volume.  What Shapiro knew of the provenance of the artifact is inscribed along with his signature on the second free end paper, where he notes that he had purchased the volume in March of 1932 from the bookseller Dobell, who had bought it at a Sotheby’s auction in February of 1932.  Below the signature Shapiro speculatively identifies the volume as one auctioned at Sotheby’s in July of 1899 at the original dispersal of O’Flahertie’s library and notes that it had been rebound by the London firm Zaehnsdorf in 1900, “presumably for the new owner.”


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