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SECTION A: Books written, co-written or translated by Robert Graves


a. First edition, first state, first binding.

ON ENGLISH POETRY | Being an Irregular Approach to the Psychology | of This Art, from Evidence Mainly Subjective | BY ROBERT GRAVES | [publisher’s emblem] | NEW YORK ALFRED · A · KNOPF MCMXXII

Collation: [1]-[9]8 [10]4, 76 leaves.

p. [i] [at top right:] ON | ENGLISH POETRY; p. [ii] list of books by Graves; p. [iii] title-page; p. [iv] copyright, publishing, printer’s, paper manufacture’s, binder’s and manufacturing notices; p. [v] To T. E. Lawrence of Arabia and | All Soul’s College, Oxford, and to | W. H. R. Rivers of the Solomon Is- | lands and St. John’s College, Cam- | bridge, my gratitude for valuable | critical help, and the dedication of | this book.; p. [vi] quotations from Skelton (2 ll.) and Shelley (2 ll.); pp. vii-viii NOTE; pp. ix-xi CONTENTS; p. [xii] blank; pp. 13–149 text; pp. [150]–[152] blank.

19.3 × 13.3 cm. Bulk: 1.7/2.3 cm. White wove paper; all edges trimmed; top edges stained red. White wove endpapers. Bound in cream boards; back blank; front printed with cobbled design in red, with a rounded cream box near top, inside which, in red: On | ENGLISH POETRY | Robert Graves; near bottom is publisher’s emblem; spine printed in red: ON | ENGLISH | POETRY | [rule] | GRAVES

Price: $2.00. Number of copies undisclosed. Published in May 1922 in yellow dust-jacket printed in grey-blue.

Contents: Note – I. Definitions – II. The Nine Muses – III. Poetry and Primitive Magic – IV. Conflict of Emotions – V. The Pattern Underneath – VI. Inspiration – VII. The Parable of Mr. Poeta and Mr. Lector – VIII. The Carpenter’s Son – IX. The Gadding Vine – X. The Dead End and the Man of One Poem – XI. Spenser’s Cuffs – XII. Connection of Poetry and Humour – XIII. Diction – XIV. The Daffodils – XV. Vers Libre – XVI. Moving Mountains – XVII. La Belle Dame Sans Merci – XVIII. The General Elliott – XIX. The God Called Poetry – XX. Logicalization – XXI. Limitations – XXII. The Naughty Boy – XXIII. The Classical and Romantic Ideas – XXIV. Colour – XXV. Putty – XXVI. Reading Aloud – XXVII. L’Arte della Pittura – XXVIII. On Writing Musically – XXIX. The Use of Poetry – XXX. Histories of Poetry – XXXI. The Bowl Marked Dog – XXXII. The Analytic Spirit – XXXIII. Rhyme and Alliteration – XXXIV. An Awkward Fellow Called Ariphrades – XXXV. Improvising New Conventions – XXXVI. When in Doubt . . . – XXXVII. The Editor with the Muckrake – XXXVIII. The Moral Question – XXXIX. The Poet as Outsider – XL. A Polite Acknowledgement – XLI. Fake Poetry, Bad Poetry and Mere Verse – XLII. A Dialogue on Fake Poetry – XLIII. Asking Advice – XLIV. Surface Faults, An Illusion – XLV. Linked Sweetness Long Drawn Out – XLVI. The Fable of the Ideal Gadget – XLVII. Sequels are Barred – XLVIII. Tom Fool – XLIX. Cross Rhythm and Resolution – L. My Name is Legion, for We are Many – LI. The Pig Baby – LII. Apology for Definitions – LIII. Times and Seasons – LIV. Two Heresies – LV. The Art of Expression – LVI. Ghosts in the Sheldonian – LVII. The Laying-On of Hands – LVIII. Ways and Means – LIX. Poetry as Labour – LX. The Necessity of Arrogance – LXI. In Procession – Appendix: The Dangers of Definition.

Note 1: The initial letter of each chapter in the book is set in 36pt. type. Due to an error, the four chapters which begin with the letter “A” (on pages 93, 97, 125 and 134) were set in 12pt. type. In the place where a single 36pt. upper case “A” was supposed to have been printed, the typesetters set the letter “A” three times in a vertical series in 12pt. type thus:

A: | A; | A: |A: |

A: | A; |A: |A: |

A; | A; |A; |A: |


All leaves are integral. Very few copies of this state of the book exist.

Note: 2: A7a, A7b and A7c have the misprints “that” for “than that” on p. 33, IX, l. 2, and “have” for “how” on p. 145, l.5. These errors were not corrected.

A7a, A7b and A7c were printed in the U. S.

b. First edition, second state (expurgated).

Title-page as A7a.

Collation as A7a.

Remainder as A7a except as below.

The errors concerning the initial upper case “A” on pages 93, 97, 125 and 134 were corrected by excising the misprinted leaves and pasting corrected, replacement cancel leaves onto the stubs.

This is by far the most common state of the book.

Notes: There was a secondary binding of orange boards; back blank; front printed with cobbled design in red, with a rounded orange box near top, inside which, in red: On | ENGLISH POETRY | Robert Graves; near bottom is publisher’s emblem; spine has red label at top: [in blue:] [rectangular single rule box enclosing all:] [light rectangular singular rule box enclosing all:] ON | ENGLISH | POETRY | [device] | ROBERT | GRAVES | 1922

It would seem that corrected copies were issued very quickly after the errors were detected. William Reese Co., New Haven, Connecticut, in Catalogue 47, January 1987 offered an association copy (in the binding with the label on the spine), bearing a pencil inscription from Nunnally Johnson to American poet John A. Weaver, and a pencil date within the month of publication on the pastedown. William Reese also reports that “To date, every contemporary presentation to a notable we have seen, including to Siegfried Sassoon, has been in this binding.”

Photographic reprints of A7b were issued by Haskell House (1972) and Folcroft Library Editions (1975).

c. English issue (1922):

ON ENGLISH POETRY | Being an Irregular Approach to the Psychology | oƒ This Art, from Evidence Mainly Subjective | By | ROBERT GRAVES | 19 [publisher’s emblem] 22 | LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN

Collation: as A7a, except p.[iv] printing notice.

20.2 × 13.0 cm. Bulk: 1.7/2.1 cm. White wove paper; all edges trimmed. White wove endpapers. Bound in bright yellow cloth printed in black; back blank; front printed with cobbled design; rounded box near top as A7a and publisher’s emblem in rounded box near bottom; spine: On | ENGLISH | POETRY | Robert | Graves | HEINEMANN

Price: 8s.6d. Number of copies: 1,560. Published 6 July 1922 in buff dust-jacket printed in black cobbled design as front boards.

Notes: Impressions: 2nd, September 1922.

The English issue exists in a variant binding. Neither William Nicholson (the designer) nor Graves liked the effect of the first state. The second state is buff boards with cobbled design in black; a white label on front reads: On | ENGLISH POETRY | Robert Graves; tan label on spine: [all flush left:] On | English | Poetry | Robert | Graves | Heinemann

The half-title is a cancel.

The first issue dust-jacket has as the last line on the back panel: ‘LONDON : WILLIAM HEINEMANN’. The later issue reads: ‘LONDON : WILLIAM HEINEMANN LTD.’ The jackets are otherwise identical.

A copy with the term "presentation copy" embossed at the top of the title-page was offered for sale in October 1999 by Joseph Cohen, Great Acquisitions Books, 8120 Hampson Street, New Orleans, LA 70118.

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