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Fine Editions Ltd

Fine Editions Ltd
Item #BB2770 The Borough : a poem, in twenty-four letters [Peter Grimes]. Rev. G. CRABBE, George.
The Borough : a poem, in twenty-four letters [Peter Grimes]

The Borough : a poem, in twenty-four letters [Peter Grimes]

London: Printed for J. Hatchard, Bookseller to Her Majesty, 190, Opposite Albany, Piccadilly, 1810. Full Calf. First Edition of Crabbe's best known work, dedicated to the Duke of Rutland, a series of twenty-four verse letters, including Peter Grimes, the poem that Benjamin Britten used in 1945 as basis for his masterly opera. Demy 8vo (217 x 130mm): Xli,[1],344,[4]pp, including half title and four pages of advertisements listing 52 title available from Hatchard. Contemporary full tree calf, sympathetically rebacked with plain tan calf, spine in six compartments divided by double gilt rules, maroon leather lettering piece gilt. Armorial book plate to front paste-down of industrialist [Thomas] Starling Benson (1775-1858). Faintly visible contemporary signature to title page of Sophia Baillie (1771–1843), daughter of naval surgeon Thomas Denman. Bareham & Gatrell A15. An exceptional, tall copy, very clean (excepting advertisements at end) and bright. Hayward 196. Fine. Item #BB2770

Five further editions followed in six years. Written in heroic couplets, the poems are arranged as a series of 24 letters, covering various social strata, trades, and places, and detailing the lives of rural characters. The best known letter (XXII) is that of Peter Grimes, which inspired Britten’s opera. "To talk about Crabbe is to talk about England," E. M. Forster declared in a radio broadcast in May 1941. It was hearing Forster’s talk while living in California that gave Britten the idea for his first opera and inspired his return to England and Aldeburgh, the unnamed borough of Crabbe's poems. "There are marvellous passages in ‘Peter Grimes’, in which the fisherman, cast out by society on suspicion of murdering his boy apprentices, hides out in the foetid estuary of the Alde, companioned only by the melancholy and ‘tuneless cry’ of the marsh birds. Paddling through these backwaters, Grimes sees the ghosts of his brutal father and two ‘thin pale’ boys rising from the brackish depths calling out to him to join them, . . . It is a nice irony that when Britten and Peter Pears founded the Aldeburgh festival in 1948 they did so amid the kind of sniping and stuffy local resistance that Crabbe would have recognised." (The Spectator, 25 June 2022) Crabbe’s literary influence and legacy initially spread far and wide. Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park was heavily inspired by Crabbe's works, as was to a lesser extent Persuasion. So the later drowning of Crabbe's voice would have surprised his admirers, including Byron, who called him "nature's sternest painter, yet the best." It would also have shocked Forster, who praised Crabbe for "his tartness, his acid humour, his honesty, his feeling for certain English types and certain kinds of English scenery." N. B. With few exceptions (always identified), we only stock books in exceptional condition. 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.).

Price: $435.00

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