“D’YE KEN JOHN PEEL”: LIMITED DERRYDALE EDITION OF GRAVES’ FAMOUS HUNTING SONG
GRAVES, John Woodcock. John Peel. New York: Derrydale Press, 1932. Slim folio (10 by 12-1/2 inches), original half red cloth, gilt-stamped red paper-covered boards, uncut and unopened. $300.
Limited Derrydale Press first edition, one of 990 copies, of the popular 19th-century hunting song “John Peel,” composed by Graves as he listened to his mother’s lullaby rendition of “Bonnie Annie,” with illustrated title page and eight vignette line cuts of equestrian scenes by Robert Ball.
John Graves counted among his friends the Lake District farmer, horse-dealer and huntsman John Peel, with whom he frequently hunted. One evening Peel visited Graves and while sitting in the parlor they heard Graves’s mother, as he put it: “singing to sleep my eldest son with a very old rant called ‘Bonnie Annie.’ The pen and ink being on the table, the idea of writing a song to this old air forced itself upon me, and thus was produced, impromptu, ‘D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so grey…’ I well remember saying in a joking style, ‘By jove, Peel you’ll be sung when we’re both run to earth” (A.W. Campbell). This wonderful wide-margined edition of Graves’ popular song was printed at the famed Derrydale Press by its founder Eugene Connett. After studying the typography of Daniel Berkeley Updike, avid sportsman Connett founded the Derrydale Press, with the intent “to reprint the very scarce early American books on sport which had become so rare that some of them would never be seen outside of a few private collections… and to produce a group of books on contemporary American sport which, because of their beauty, would be preserved.” Podeschi (Mellon), 336.
Only light edge-wear to original boards. An about-fine copy.