“HOW DO I LOVE THEE? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS”
BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett. Sonnets from the Portuguese WITH: Facsimile of first edition of Sonnets from the Portuguese. San Francisco: Printed for William Andrews Clark, Jr., 1927. Together, two volumes. Slim folio, original half vellum gilt, uncut; 12mo, original self-wrappers, original half vellum slipcase. Housed together in original cardboard slipcase, printed paper label. $1100.
Limited edition, number 126 of 250 copies privately printed for presentation on behalf of socialite William Andrews Clark, Jr., of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s famous love poems, including a facsimile of the T.J. Wise forgery of the first edition and a beautifully bound folio edition.
Written as a gift for her husband, Sonnets from the Portuguese "describes the growth and development of her love for Robert Browning. The title, chosen to disguise the personal nature of the poems by suggesting that they were a translation, was a secret reference for the Brownings to his nickname for her, 'The Portuguese,' based on her poem 'Catarina to Camoens,' which Browning particularly admired and which portrayed a Portuguese woman's devotion to her poet lover" (Drabble, 920). William Andrews Clark, Jr., son of senator William Andrews Clark, Sr., was a bibliophile and patron of the arts, having founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the University of California, Los Angeles' William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, which houses his rare book collection. Inspired by the beauty of John Henry Nash's 1925 edition of Browning's Sonnets, Clark commissioned this edition, which includes a facsimile of the first edition as well as a folio printing of the Sonnets, to be presented as Christmas gifts in 1927. Nash, a bibliophile and typographer, was "the most generously patronized fine printer of his time", with commissions from the leading figures of his day, including William Randolph Hearst. "His near technical perfection and his use of various typefaces, ornaments, and high-quality materials were esteemed by those who appreciated the craftsmanship involved in such work" (ANB).
Both volumes fine, slipcase with minor expert color restoration. An excellent copy of this scarce edition.