London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1915. First Impression. Stiff Wrappers. First Separate Edition, including Brooke's most famous poem, published five months after 1914 and Other Poems, which contained these sonnets. Slim foolscap 8vo (139 x 114mm): pp. Stitched in stiff grey wrappers printed in blue; wanting the rare printed envelope. Very fine (trivial speck on leading edge of upper cover). A superb survival; 20,000 copies were printed, but few remain in this condition. Keynes 28. Fine. Item #BB2438
Originally published in New Numbers, to which Brooke had become a regular contributor. In January, 1915, Brooke had sent the complete set of sonnets to Wilfrid Gibson, coeditor, with Lascelles Abercrombie, of the Gloucestershire poetry magazine. The sonnets appeared in the fourth (and final) issue, which was dated “December 1914,” but in fact was published on 27 February 1915. “The Soldier,” the fifth sonnet in Brooke’s sequence, responds to the advent of the First World War, the poet having enlisted with the Royal Naval Division in September, 1914. It quickly became his most famous poem, and helped to elevate him, after his death on 23 April 1915, into a national hero. "If I should die, think only this of me: / That there’s some corner of a foreign field / That is for ever England." Brooke composed "The Soldier" between 23 and 25 December 1914, while stationed at the Royal Naval Division’s training camp, at Blandford, Dorset. He was at first unaware that on Easter Sunday, 5 April, the Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, William Inge, had recited “The Soldier” from his pulpit and predicted that Brooke would join the ranks of the great English poets. This sermon was reported in The Times, giving “The Soldier” a national celebrity. Brooke’s devoted admirer Edward Marsh, private secretary to Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, sent Brooke The Times press-cutting reporting the sermon just before the poet embarked on his voyage to Skyros, where he died of blood-poisoning. N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition, carefully preserved in archival, removable mylar sleeves. All orders are packaged with care and posted promptly. Satisfaction guaranteed. (Fine Editions Ltd is a member of the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and we subscribe to its codes of ethics.).