"TINY ECSTASIES SET IN MOTION": RARE FIRST EDITIONS OF EMILY DICKINSON'S FIRST THREE BOOKS OF POETRY
DICKINSON, Emily. A collection of first editions: Poems. [First Series]. WITH: Poems. Second Series. WITH: Poems. Third Series. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1890, 1891, 1896. Together, three volumes. 12mo, First Series in original silver-stamped ivory boards, grey cloth spine, top edge gilt; Second Series in original gilt-stamped gray cloth, top edge gilt; Third Series in original gilt-stamped ivory boards, green cloth spine, all edges gilt. Housed in three custom chemise and together in a custom clamshell box. $29,000.
Rare Emily Dickinson collection, consisting of first editions, first printings of the first three books of her poetry. Only 500 copies of the First Series were printed, 960 copies of the Second Series, and 1000 copies of the Third Series. All three volumes are in original publisher's bindings.
Emily Dickinson published only 11 poems during her lifetime; but after her death in 1886, her sister Lavinia discovered a locked box containing 1,775 manuscript poems. Mabel Todd edited and published the three series of these poems until a quarrel between the Dickinson and the Todd families led to a division of the manuscripts, preventing the publication of complete and authoritative editions of Dickinson's poetry until 70 years after her death. Dickinson's poems are her "'letter to the world,' records of the life about her, of tiny ecstasies set in motion by mutations of the seasons or by home and garden incidents, of candid insights into her own states of consciousness, and of speculations on the timeless mysteries of love and death. Her mind was charged with paradox, as though her vision, like the eyes of birds, was focused in opposite direction on the two worlds of material and immaterial values. She could express feelings of deepest poignancy in terms of wit… her artistry in the modulation of simple meters and the delicate management of imperfect rhymes was greater than [Emerson's]" (Hart, 108-9). Each book is a first printing; the First Series is in binding B, Second Series in binding B and Third Series in binding A (no priority established in Second and Third Series). Myerson A1.1a, A2.1a, A4.1. BAL 4655, 4656, 4661. Grolier American 100, 91. Contemporary owner signatures and inscriptions in each volume; some pencil underlining in Third Series.
A bit of foxing to endpapers of Second Series only, interiors generally clean. Expert reinforcement to inner hinges. Minor rubbing and darkening to bindings of all three. A very desirable set. First editions of Dickinson's Poems are quite scarce; the First Series is particularly rare.