Poems. (Privately Printed).: Penkill Proofs, Princeton/Troxell (copy 1)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Production Description

Document Title: Poems. (Privately Printed).
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Strangeways and Walden
City of publication: London
Date of publication: 1869 August 18
Pre-Publication Information: This is an incomplete set of proofs; missing are pages 195-196. It is commonly known as Penkill Proof Copy A (or Copy 1).
Pagination: [i-iv], pp [1]-194, 197-218
Authorization: DGR
Corrector: DGR


Current Location: Princeton University Library, Troxell Collection
Catalog Number: 23297
Note: acquired by Princeton in 1972

Physical Description

Cover: paper
Point: 8 point
Font: roman
Lines per Page: 29
Dimensions of Document: crown octavo, 20cm


  • Lewis, The Trial Book Fallacy, 186.
  • Wise, The Ashley Library, VIII. 171-176.
  • Troxell,“The Trial Books”, 184-185.
  • Fraser, “The Rossetti Collection of Janet Camp Troxell”, 162.

Scholarly Commentary


This is copy one of the Princeton/Troxell collection's unique pair of copies of the Penkill Proofs, so called because they were completed and sent to DGR on 18 August 1869, two days after he arrived at Alice Boyd's home Penkill Castle, in Ayrshire. He stayed at Penkill until 20 September.

These proofs were being set in type in July, as DGR's letters to Jane Morris of 21 and 30 July 1869 show (see Bryson and Troxell: 8, 11). The proofs were not finally printed off, however, until 18 August because DGR was revising and adding poems continually during the printing process. The Penkill Proofs are the first integral set of proofs that were prepared for DGR as part of the printing process that would eventuate in the 1870 Poems . They comprise Lewis's second Proof State (see The Trial Book Fallacy, 186).

Textual History: Revision

Various poems in the later part of these proofs have been numbered in pencil by DGR. These numbers correspond to a sequence of pages he projected for the ordering of the printing of the poems in the next stage of the revision process, as DGR's note at the beginning of “ The House of Life” in these proofs shows. The companion of this set of the Penkill Proofs, Copy 2, has even more numbering of the same kind, and they strongly suggest that DGR was discussing the issue of sequence with William Bell Scott. These numbers permit one to reconstruct the ordering of the poems as they would have appeared in the A Proofs, which descend directly from the Penkill Proofs. (The only perfect copy of the A Proofs known to exist is in the library of Simon Nowell Smith.)

Printing History

These proofs were being set from texts that DGR supplied to his printers (Strangeways and Walden) before he left London on 17 August 1869 for a sojourn at Penkill Castle in Scotland (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 69.116, 69.125) .

The printing process stretched between approximately 18 July and 18 August 1869. On 7 August DGR wrote to his publisher Ellis, who was overseeing the printing process, that the poems should each begin on a separate recto page, except for the longer poems. These he allowed to be printed on both sides of the page, though each new poem was to begin on a separate recto. As a consequence, poems that ran only one page or less all have blank versos. It has been suggested that this method of printing would allow DGR greater flexibility in shifting his poems about, as he experimented with the ordering of the different works. But it is not at all clear that such a procedure would have any significant impact on the printing process, at least for the printers who were preparing the works. On the other hand, such a format may well have facilitated the revision process DGR would be executing on the proofs.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
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