Poems (1870): Mixed Proofs 1869-1870, Fitzwilliam Museum

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Production Description

Document Title: [Untitled]
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Strangeways and Walden
City of publication: London
Date of publication: 1869 October - 1970 March
Pre-Publication Information: This is a set of proofs for the first edition, plus several revises and a copy of the Hand and Soul pamphlet.
Pagination: [1-2], 3-22 + [i-iv], [1]-260 + [1]-16 + [1]-2 + [1]-4
Issue: first issue, second state (of the first edition proofs)
Authorization: DGR
Collation: [A] 2, B - R 8 S 2
Note on Publication: The 16-page, 2-page, and 4-page revises bound with the proof for the first edition are without printer's signatures. The Hand and Soul pamphlet is composed of one sheet with a half sheet imposed within.
Corrector: DGR


Current Location: Fitzwilliam Museum
Note: acquired October, 1917. Originally owned by Charles Fairfax Murray, who had the material from DGR's publisher F. S. Ellis, except for the Hand and Soul pamphlet, which was given to Murray by DGR, as the inscription shows.

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.
Paper: various papers for the different parts of the grouped proofs
Dimensions of Document: crown octavo and post-octavo, varying sizes


  • 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 collection of proof materials contains, in the following order, these works: one of the few copies of the Hand and Soul pamphlet that DGR had printed for private circulation in October 1869, after he removed it from the evolving text of his 1869-1870 proofs; a copy of the second state of the first issue of the first edition proofs (printed off at the beginning of March 1870); 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; a two-page revise of On the Site of a Mulberry-Tree, planted by William Shakespeare, felled by Rev. F. Gastrell ; and a four page revise of the ballad Dennis Shand.

Special attention has to be paid to the sixteen-page revise, for which the following other copies exist in: the Huntington Library ; the British Library (two copies: Ashley 1404 and the Morris Bequest copy); Princeton/Troxell copies (two imperfect copies, nearly identical: copy 1 and copy 2)); and a second copy in the Fitzwilliam Library (bound up at the end of the library's other copy of the proofs for the first edition . Both Fitzwilliam copies carry into print all but one of the hand corrections made in Ashley 1404, the second of the British Library copies. They therefore represent 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. The first edition proofs went through two issues (and two states of the first issue) before it was ready to serve as printer's copy for the first edition (see Fredeman, Correspondence70.45-70.82), 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