"THEY WOULD NOT FIND ME MUCH CHANGED FROM HIM THEY KNEW…"
FROST, Robert. A Boy's Will. London: David Nutt, 1913. Slim octavo, original cream paper wrappers. $1500.
First edition, second issue, Crane binding C, of Frost’s first publication.
"The poems in A Boy's Will are short lyrics, many of them love poems for Elinor [Frost's wife]. Although a few have the inversions and poetic language associated with 19th-century poetry, others, such as 'Mowing' and 'Storm Fear,' indicate the experiments with voice tone and colloquial diction that distinguish Frost's great poetry. The lyrics are arranged to chronicle a boy's maturation from idealism and self-centeredness to a realization of love and an acceptance of loss" (DAB). In September 1912 Frost took his family to England and there found a publisher, David Nutt, who was willing to bring out his first book of poetry. One thousand sets of sheets of the book were originally printed, according to the report of the printer, Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co. No more than 350 copies, but likely only about 284 copies, were bound up for distribution by Nutt between April 1913 and the spring of 1921. Copies bound for Nutt before April 1, 1913 were bound in binding A—bronzed brown pebbled cloth—by the Leighton-Straker Bookbinding Co. Those in binding B, cream vellum-paper boards, were bound and issued during World War I. In 1921 Nutt went bankrupt and the remaining sheets "were in danger of being reduced to pulp," so Frost set out to "raise all the money I can to buy in those poor old first editions of mine… Some of my friends think they might be worth something" in America (Crane, A2). All of the unbound sheets were bound in bindings C (100 copies for Simpkin Marshall) and D (the remainder of the copies) and sent to Dunster House Bookshop in Cambridge, along with unsold volumes in binding B. This is a copy of Binding C, with cream linen wrappers, black lettering, no blind rules, and eight-petaled flowers. Crane A2 (second issue).