Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers

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Co. Killkenny,
R95 XV05,

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Lot 666/307

SOLD Hammer price: €48000, Estimate: €10000-15000

Inscribed to ‘My Friend Maud Gonne’Yeats (W.B.) The Wanderings of Oisin. Dramatic Sketches, Ballads & Lyrics. Fisher Unwin, L. 1892, green paper boards, parchment spine, t.e.g., uncut, some pages unopened. The second issue, one of fewer than 100 copies bound from remaining sheets of the first (Kegan Paul) issue, with cancel title page and added f.p. illus. by Edwin Ellis. Wade 3. See letter from Yeats to John O’Leary, late February 1892, where he says about 80 or 90 copies were so bound (Kelly ed. Coll. Letters v. 1 p. 287). Spine and boards a little soiled, catalogue number in ink at base of spine.This Copy Superbly Inscribed in Yeats’ hand on front pastedown, ‘To / My friend / Maud Gonne / W.B. Yeats / May 19 1892′; and with a correction probably in Yeats’ hand to the ‘By the same Author’ list on reverse of t.p.A wonderful memento of a loving friendship, which dominated Yeats’ early life and inspired much of his greatest poetry.Yeats first met Maud Gonne on 30 January 1889, a few weeks after publication of the first issue of this book, when she arrived at his father’s home in Bedford Park (London) with an introduction from a mutual friend, the Fenian John O’Leary.Thereupon ‘the troubling of my life began’. By 1892 she had already declined his first proposal of marriage, and they agreed to remain friends, and to co-operate on various projects both national and mystical. It was a friendship which unsettled Yeats’ life for more than 20 years, but gave him a magnificent harvest in his poetry. Surviving items inscribed by Yeats to Maud Gonne are now of the greatest rarity. Gonne’s unsettled life around this time was not conducive to preservation of mementos; during the Civil War her Dublin home was several times searched and its contents trashed by Free State forces.The book itself is very rare in this issue. We have not previously seen a copy in more than 30 years in business. COPAC records only two copies, at the British Library and Cambridge. There is also a copy at NLI.A superb, rare and most desirable item. (1)

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