Poems. (Privately Printed.), First Trial Book

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1869 October 3 (circa)


◦ Troxell, “The Trial Books”, 178-185 .

◦ Fraser, “The Rossetti Collection of Janet Camp Troxell”, 162 .

◦ Keane, “D. G. Rossetti's Poems 1870”, 195-200 .

◦ Lewis, The Trial Book Fallacy, 107-120, 186-187 .

Scholarly Commentary


The First Trial Book represents the fourth integral pre-publication printing of the poems that would eventually be published in April 1870 as DGR's Poems. Lewis (see The Trial Book Fallacy 186-187) designates proof states 5-7 to cover the whole of the First Trial Book printing process.

A set of proofs for the first two poems were printed off in late September (after DGR returned to London on 20 September) and the first full state of the trial book was printed on or probably shortly before 3 October 1869. A second state was printed between 3-7 October carrying revisions from the first. The first state is represented by the British Library copy (Ashley 1393) and by DGR's working copy (in the Princeton/Troxell collection); the second state is represented by the Losh copy (in the Princeton/Troxell collection) and the Fitzwilliam copy. The Huntington copy is a special case and represents the earliest form of the first state of these proofs; it is bound together with a perfect set of the Exhumation Proofs.

The trial book evolved from the corrections and additions DGR was making to the previously printed pre-publication texts—most immediately, the A2 Proof printed around 20 September. The First Trial Book was then revised by DGR and augmented with four poems that he recovered on 5 October from the manuscript volume he had buried in his wife's coffin in 1862. Between 5-26 October DGR copied and revised the poems he wanted from the manuscript book—there were five in all—and he had four of them printed off in the so-called Exhumation Proofs around 30 October. (The fifth poem, titled at that point “Bride Chamber Talk”, would eventually be recast and titled The Bride's Prelude).

A mixed set of proofs containing pages from the A Proofs, the A2 Proofs, and the first and second trial books—none of the pages with any manuscript markings—is housed in the Troxell collection as well. These proofs are bound into the second volume of the 1901 edition of DGR's Collected Works.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: 1-1870.tb1.raw.xml