JOHN EVELYN’S COPIES

Prince Arthur. An Heroick Poem. In Ten Books … London: Printed for Awnsham and John Churchil … 1695. [With:]
BLACKMORE, Richard. King Arthur. An Heroick Poem. In twelve Books … to which is annexed an Index, explaining the Names of Countrys, Citys, and Rivers, &c. London: Printed for Awnsham and John Churchil … and Jacob Tonson … 1697.

London, 1695-97.

Two vols., folio, pp. [20], 296; and pp. [2], xvii, [1], 343, [9]; very good copies in contemporary speckled calf (not uniform), morocco labels; King Arthur with the armorial bookplate of Sir Frederick Evelyn, baronet.

£2750

Approximately:
US $3848€3119

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First edition of Blackmore’s first epic poem, with the first edition of its sequel – John Evelyn’s copies, with shelfmarks ‘E5:1’ and ‘E5:2’ in his hand, Prince Arthur additionally inscribed ‘Catalogo Evelini Inscriptus / Meliora Retinete’ (Evelyn’s motto: ‘Keep the best’).

Blackmore’s Arthurian verse epic, Prince Arthur, modelled after The Aeneid and based on Geoffrey of Monmouth, proved a commercial if not critical success. Arthur is a transparent parallel to William III, and William presented Blackmore with a gold medal and a knighthood as a reward. The sequel, which again used myth as a garb for contemporary politics, met with somewhat less success, and Blackmore, a physician as well as a poet, became the butt of lampoons by Dryden, Garth, Tom Brown etc. A generation, and several more verse epics, later he did not escape Pope’s barbs either, and appears as ‘Neverending Blackmore’ in The Dunciad.

Wing B 3080 and B 3077.

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