Poems (1870): Proofs for first edition, Fitzwilliam Museum (Copy 1)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Production Description

Document Title: Poems.
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Strangeways and Walden
City of publication: London
Date of publication: 1870 March 1 (and 22 March for additional material)
Edition: proof for first edition
Pre-Publication Information: This is a set of proofs for the first edition.
Pagination: [i-v], [1]-69, [70 missing], 71-260+[1]-[17]+[1]-4
Issue: first issue, second state (of the integral first edition proof)
Authorization: DGR
Collation: [A] 2, B - R 8 S 2
Note on Publication: The 17-page and the 4-page revises bound with the proof for the first edition are without printer's signatures.
Corrector: DGR


Current Location: Fitzwilliam Museum
Note: acquired October, 1917. Originally in the possession of Mrs. Jane Morris (1870), and subsequently owned by Charles Fairfax Murray.

Physical Description

Point: 8 point; 5.5 point leading
Lines per Page: 24
Note on Typography: DGR to WMR, 23 February 1870: “I have sent my proofs for correction and resetting (as I mean now to have only 24 lines in a page instead of 29” (see Fredeman, Correspondence 70.33). Doughty and Wahl, following T. J. Wise (Wise IV 129), say the type was now reset for the first edition proof. But Troxell (see “The Trial Books” 192) shows that the type “is the same, re-leaded but not re-set.” On 7 March DGR wrote to Swinburne saying his book is “now printed wider so as to make more pages” (Fredeman, Correspondence, 70.45). DGR hoped to have a book of approximately 300 pages.
Dimensions of Document: crown octavo 18.5cm
Other Physical Features: The paper used for the two sets of revises is different from the paper used in the proofs for the first edition.


  • Troxell, “The Trial Books”, 188-189.
  • Fraser, “The Rossetti Collection of Janet Camp Troxell”, 164.
  • Keane, “D. G. Rossetti's Poems 1870”, 205-207.
  • Lewis, The Trial Book Fallacy, 187-188.

Scholarly Commentary


This is one of the four sets of 1869-1870 proofs that Charles Fairfax Murray obtained from Mrs. Jane Morris in 1897, and that he subsequently gave to the Fitzwilliam Museum along with much other DGR material.

This proof is a copy of the second state of the first issue of the proofs for the first edition of the 1870 Poems . It is bound together with two printers' revises: a 16-page revise of “ The Stream's Secret” (which comprises pages 1-12) plus four pages with the sonnets “ The Love-Letter,” “ Barren Spring,” “ The Wine of Circe,” and “ The Monochord”; and a four page revise of the ballad “ Dennis Shand.” Other copies of the 16-page revise are in the Huntington Library; the British Library (two copies: Ashley 1404 and the Morris Bequest copy; Princeton/Troxell (two imperfect copies, nearly identical: copy 1 and copy 2); and a second copy in the Fitzwilliam Library.

This copy of the first proof is identical to the latter. Both carry into print all but one of the hand corrections made in Ashley 1404, the second of the British Library copies. The Fitzwilliam copies represent therefore the fourth state of the revise.

Textual History: Revision

The text of these proofs and revises is clear of revision or change. Vertical lines appear in the margin on pages 98-99, 119, 127, 129, and 231.

The revise materials bound up with these first edition proofs indicate some of the late changes made to the evolving set of poems that eventually became the 1870 Poems. This proof carries revisions from an earlier state, and it underwent a major revision (eventuating in a second issue) before it was ready to serve as printer's copy for the first edition (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 70.43-70.82), and certain of the changes proved quite significant. Most important was the addition of “ The Wine of Circe” and “ The Stream's Secret,” and the rearrangement of several poems in the first section, especially the replacement of “ Troy Town” by “ The Blessed Damozel” as the opening poem of the volume. “ The House of Life” sequence changed slightly during the revision process, and the sonnets in particular were increased to fifty (there are forty-six in the sequence in this proof). The four additional sonnets were: “ The Love-Letter,” “ Barren Spring,” “ Love-Sweetness” and “ He and I.” The other major change was in the lineation, which went from 29 lines per page to 24 lines.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Copyright: © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge