Ballads and Sonnets (1881), (author's proofs, British Library copy)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Production Description

Document Title: Ballads and Sonnets
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Publisher: F. S. Ellis
Printer: Chiswick Press, C. Wittingham and Co.
City of publication: London
Date of publication: 1881 April-June
Pre-Publication Information: proof
Issue: 1
Authorization: DGR


Current Location: The British Library
Catalog Number: C.194.a.418

Physical Description

Note on binding: The cover, a mockup design without endpapers, wraps the signatures that comprise these proofs.
Point: 10 point; 6 point leading
Font: roman
Lines per Page: 17
Margin top: 2 cm
Margin bottom: 3.8 cm
Margin right: 2 cm
Margin left: 2.5 cm
Dimensions of Document: 19 x 12.8cm (crown octavo)

Scholarly Commentary


This is a nearly complete set of proofs for the first edition of the 1881 Ballads and Sonnets volume. Although the proofs are gathered together and laid into a binder's mockup of the cover, this appearance of a bookish integrity is misleading. The proofs are in fact a miscellaneous set of separate signatures that have been gathered together arbitrarily and set in the order of their final printing sequence. The proofs chosen for each signature vary from (in some cases) a first proof to (in many other cases) various later states of the revise proofs.

The original provenance of these proofs is not clear. They came to the British Library in the Vander Poel sale at Christie's (3 March 2004). Vander Poel had them by purchase from The Rosenbach Library, where they were gifted by S. M. Samuel, who purchased them in 1895. How Samuel came into possession is not known. Comparing this set of proofs with the large collection now held in the library of the Delaware Art Museum, one surmises that these probably came from the publisher, who gathered together the proofs still in his possession and made up this eclectic set for sale. Arguing against this hypothesis is the existence of signature Z among the Delaware proofs. This last signature is not among these British Library proofs. Since multiple copies of the proofs were printed off, it is entirely possible, indeed likely, that the publisher's copy of this last proof sheet simply went missing at the printer's after the book was printed off.

The Delaware proofs came to that library through Fanny Cornforth Schott, who must have gathered them from DGR's papers after his death.

Printing History

The contents of these proofs, by signature, including their dates of printing is as follows: B, 5 April: author's first proof (corrected); C, 13 April: author's first revise; D, [13 April]: first revise, printer's copy; E, 22 April: final proof, printer's copy; F, [13 April]: first revise, printer's copy; G, [5-6] April: author's first proof; H, 14 April: author's first revise; I, 14 April: author's first proof; K, 14 April: author's first proof; L, [25 or 26 April]: second revise (partial), printer's copy; M, 28 April: first revise, printer's copy; N, 3 May: first revise, author's corrected copy; O, 3 May: author first proof; P, [17 May]: final proof, printer's copy; Q, 4 May: author's first proof; R, 5 May: author's first proof; S, 6 May: author's first proof; T, 10 May: author's first revise; U, 10 May: author's first revise; X, 6 May: author's first proof; Y, 10 May: author's first revise; A, 19 May: author's proof (mixed set).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1