The Bodleian Notebook (“Kelmscott Love Sonnets”)


Production Description

Document Title: [The Bodleian Notebook]
Author: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date of composition: 1874
Type of Manuscript: fair copy with corrections
Collation: 88 leaves with one initial stiff paper cover leaf, and with two leaves cut away
Scribe: DGR


Current Location: The Bodleian Library
Catalog Number: Ms Eng Poet d.43

Physical Description

Cover: Soft blue leather cover trimmed in gold
Note on binding: On upper left inside the front cover is a stationer's label:

Sold by

Partridige & Cooper

192 Fleet St.
Paper: ruled white laid paper
Watermark: J. ALLEN & SONS

Dimensions of Document: 22.2 x 18cm


  • Wahl, The Kelmscott Love Sonnets.

Scholarly Commentary


This notebook is one of three intact examples of the kinds of notebook that DGR regularly used to write in. A like notebook in the British Library houses DGR's fair copy manuscript of “Rose Mary”, and the University of Virginia library has the third intact notebook, which in this case holds a fair copy of DGR's unfinished tale “St. Agnes of Intercession”. The Duke University Library possesses pieces of four such notebooks—disbound covers, pages, and page sequences. This particular book was a gift DGR made and gave to Jane Morris in 1874, when it was fair copied by DGR from draft manuscripts he had written in 1871-1873, and mostly in the summer-fall of 1871.

The poems are grouped into two distinct sections. From the front of the book, a series of poems, mostly sonnets, is arranged in sequence, written on the rectos only. The sonnets are all written crosswise on the pages, with the titles near the spine. This sequence runs from pages 1-33. Pages 34-36 in the notebook are blank. After the sonnet “Spring Tribute” (page 24) DGR has carefully cut out two leaves from the notebook. These leaves must have contained one or another of the following sonnets: “First Fire”; “Last Fire”; or “Silent Noon”. The page numbering of this sequence is in pencil, but not by DGR.

From the back of the book, another more disparate sequence of texts is arranged, written into the notebook in the same way, but with the poems all written on the page versos, and with the sequence starting from the end of the notebook. The pages of this group of poems are not numbered.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Copyright: The Bodleian Library, Oxford