Poems (1869-70), The Exhumation Proofs

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1869 October 30


◦ Troxell, “The Trial Books”, 184-187 .

◦ Fraser, “The Rossetti Collection of Janet Camp Troxell”, 163 .

◦ Lewis, The Trial Book Fallacy, 187 .

Scholarly Commentary


Although Fraser says that “The two heavily annotated partial copies in the Troxell Collection are unique” ( Fraser, 163 ), this statement is not correct. Indeed, the only complete copy of these proofs is not in the Troxell Collection at all, it is in the Huntington Library. It is bound together with a nearly perfect copy of the First Trial Book, first state. This Huntington Copy of the Exhumation Proofs appears to be the only complete copy to have survived. It represents the second issue of these proofs and belonged to F. S. Ellis, DGR's publisher. Lewis (see The Trial Book Fallacy 187) does not record its existence.

The Exhumation Proofs print the poems that DGR wanted to recover from the volume of poetry he buried in his wife's coffin in 1862. This volume was removed from the grave on 5 October, at which point DGR began copying out the poems he wanted and revising them. When he had completed the process of copying and revising, he sent the texts to the printer. The first issue of the proofs was printed off on 30 October 1869, and a second issue was printed sometime thereafter to incorporate changes DGR made in the first issue. Collating the several copies shows that DGR used copy 1 of the first issue as his own working copy. He must have sent copy 2 to Ellis with corrections for the texts of the first five poems only. The second issue of the proofs was then pulled as DGR was still correcting Dante at Verona (pages 47-67).

Six poems were printed in the Exhumation proofs: A Last Confession (pages [1]-21), Jenny (pages 23-37), The Portrait (pages 39-41), The Sea-Limits (pages 43-44), the first of the three “Old and New Art” sonnets, “St. Luke the Painter” (page 45), and Dante at Verona (pages 47-67).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1