"THAT SHAPED THE SOUL OF YOU": PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF ELINOR WYLIE'S FIRST BOOK, NETS TO CATCH THE WIND, 1921, WARMLY INSCRIBED BY HER TO WRITER DOROTHY KUHNS HEYWARD, WITH WYLIE'S INSCRIPTION OF LINES FROM HER POEM "NANCY"
WYLIE, Elinor. Nets to Catch the Wind. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1921. Octavo, original light and dark brown cloth, original dust jacket. $800.
First edition, first issue, of Wylie's first book, an especially memorable presentation/association copy of her poetry inscribed by her to "Dorothy Kuhns from Elinoir Wylie, with friendship and affection 1922," dated the year before Dorothy married Dubose Heyward. This copy also featuring Wylie's inscription on the same page with lines from her poem, Nancy: "The dexterous touch which shaped the soul of you, Mingled, to mix, and make you what you are, Magic between the sugar and the spice." From the library and with the bookplate of Dorothy and Dubose Heyward, famed for co-authoring the play Porgy that became the basis for Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
Wylie "was a figure of great allure in downtown New York in the 1920s, a time when glamour attached itself to bohemianism and liberated women celebrated their sexuality" (Oxford Book of American Poetry, 310). Nets to Catch the Wind is considered by many "to contain her best work… Her poems were miniature in scope, displaying what Wylie in an essay called her 'small clean technique.' Stanzas and lines were quite short, and the effect of her images was of a highly detailed, polished surface… Nets to Catch the Wind conveys a deep knowledge of life and evidences a mature talent," in the view of a 20th-Century Literary Criticism contributor; in its own time, it attracted the praise of poets such as Edna St. Vincent Millay and Louis Untermeyer" (Poetry Foundation). First edition, first printing: on paper with no watermark. Some poems included in a private printing of 65 copies anonymously issued in London in 1912, titled Incidental Numbers. Select poems earlier appearing in magazines such as New Republic, Nation, Literary Review and Outlook. The year after Wylie's inscription in this memorable copy, Dorothy Kuhns married Dubose Heyward, soon to co-author the stage adaptation of Porgy from his 1925 novel. She "wrote the first draft of the play alone… once he had read her script, he joined her in writing the final stage version." When Porgy opened on Broadway in 1927, it "marked the birth of an American theatre legend… The play in turn was the foundation on which Dubose Heyward and George and Ira Gershwin build their memorable musical drama, Porgy and Bess." In addition to collaborating on other works with her husband, she was a novelist and also co-authored the Broadway production Jonica with Moss Hart, and Cinderelative with Dorothy de Jagers, both produced in 1930 (New York Times). Small bookplate partially visible under the Heyward bookplate.
Book fine; light edge-wear, small closed tears to original dust jacket. A near-fine presentation copy with an exceptional association.