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GREGORY, George (1754--1808)
The life of Thomas Chatterton, with criticisms on his genius and writings, and a concise view of the controversy concerning Rowley's poems. By G. Gregory, D.D. F.A.S. ...
London: printed for G. Kearsley, 1789.
[2], vi, 263, [1] p. : [1] engr. facsim. ; 20.8 cm. (8º)

The advertisement (sig. A3r) states that 'The following pages were composed at the request of the respectable Editor of the Biographia Britannica, in order to be inserted in that valuable work. The author, however, requested leave to print off a small edition, in a separate state, for the accommodation and satisfaction of a few friends.' Sig. A2v reproduces 'An extract from Kew Gardens, an unpublished MS. of Chatterton being a fac simile of his hand writing'. Advertisements for other works by Rev. Gregory at the end. ESTC t145606.

Copy Notes Bound (1) with William Cook's The life of Samuel Johnson, 1785 (q.v.). Inscription in pencil on front free-endpaper, possibly in Soane's hand: Genius 103 Chatt., referring to a passage on p. 103 marked in pencil: ' ... he knew that original genius consists in forming new and happy combinations, rather than in searching after thoughts and ideas which never had occurred before; and that the man who never imitated, has seldom acquired a habit of good writing.'. The passage continues with an allusion to the controversy over the authenticity of Chatterton's Rowley poems. These were supposedly the production of the C15th monk Thomas Rowley transcribed from manuscripts discovered by the young Chatterton in Bristol, but in fact an accomplished literary forgery second only to the Ossian poems, and it is tempting to trace a lineage to Soane's fictive monks at Pitzhanger and 13 Lincoln's Inn Fields.

Binding C18th half calf, marbled printer's waste paper boards, gilt double-ruled spine, red morocco spine-label reading 'Life of Johnson & Chatterton'. Bound by Edward Lawrence for 1s. 6d., 1802. (Spiers Box. Book binding).

Reference Number 760


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