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GRAY, Thomas (1716--1771)
[Poems. York. 1775]
The poems of Mr. Gray. To which are prefixed memoirs of his life and writings by W. Mason, M.A.
York printed by A. Ward; and sold by J. Dodsley, Pall-Mall, London; and J. Todd, Stonegate, York, 1775.
[4], 416, 111, [3] p., engr. frontis. port. ; 25.3 cm. (4°)

This is the first edition of Gray's collected poems with the memoir of his life and writings by his friend and literary executor, the poet William Mason, who included poems Gray had chosen not to print. His approach of constructing the memoir by linking selections from his subject's correspondence with narrative passages was adopted by other biographers, but some of Gray's letters were altered by Mason for publication and some originals destroyed. The 'Memoirs' are followed by 'The Poems Of Mr. Gray.' which has separate pagination and register, and includes 'Imitations, Variations, and Additional Notes', pp. [73]--111. Each of these sections has a fly-title page; that to the 'Memoirs Of The Life and Writings Of Mr. Gray' is sometimes found preceding the title-page as a half-title, sometimes following it as in the Soane copy. See C.S. Northup, A bibliography of Thomas Gray (New Haven 1917), 13; Herbert W. Starr, A bibliography of Thomas Gray 1917-1951, with material supplementary to C.S. Northup's Bibliography of Thomas Gray (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press for Temple University Publications, 1953), 20-N13. The profile portrait frontispiece was engraved by James Basire after W. Mason and B. Wilson and is dated 1 March 1775. 'The Elegy Written In A Country Church-yard' is set in quatrains. With a final errata leaf. ESTC t107045.

Copy Notes With the ownership signature of William Beckford in ink at the foot of the title, flanking the date 1776 when he was 17. Purchased by Soane from Thomas Boone for £1 on 3 October 1808. (Spiers Box). With Boone's annotations in pencil on front pastedown xkx Scarce. £1=0s.0d / xSx.

Binding C18th calf, gilt-ruled border, gilt-tooled spine compartments, red morocco spine-label, lettered 'Gray's Poems'.

Reference Number 1430


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