Poems (1870): Proofs for first edition

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 1-7
Pre-Publication Information: This is a set of the proofs for the first edition.
Pagination: [i-iv], pp [1]-144, 209-256
Authorization: DGR
Collation: [A] 2, B - K 8, P - R 8
Note on Publication: Note in pencil by John Skelton on blank page before title page
Corrector: DGR


Current Location: Library of Jerome McGann
Note: From the library of John Sparrow, thence to McGann

Physical Description

Cover: Green morocco binding by Riviere with marbled paper laid over
Note on binding: marbled edges on pages
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, 18.6 x. 12.2 cm


  • 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.
  • Burnett, The Ashley Catalogue I. 71-72.

Scholarly Commentary


This incomplete set of proofs lacks four integral gatherings (L - O) plus the four pages of the concluding signature S. As the letter pasted down on the inside front cover indicates (as well as the pencil note on the first leaf), DGR sent the proofs to John Skelton on 5 March 1870 for review (the notice ultimately appeared in Fraser's Magazine, May 1870 609-622). It seems unlikely that DGR would have sent such a truncated work to Skelton. The missing parts of the proof must indicate that Skelton himself removed them for some reason.

Textual History: Revision

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). The key additions made after this proof was pulled were 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: Personal library of Jerome McGann.