Small 8vo (155 x 95 mm), pp. , 212, , with 5 plates designed and engraved by William Blake; title slightly soiled, title verso and Preface browned, occasional mild offsetting, pl. I chipped in outer margin, small tear to the upper inner margin of the title-page; modern half morocco with cloth sides, spine lettered directly in gilt; pencil ownership inscriptions of Thomas Park (to head of title) and Edmund Blunden (to half-title) with a leaf of notes by Blunden loosely inserted, occasional ink and pencil marginal notes (some slightly trimmed).
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Ballads … founded on Anecdotes relating to Animals, with Prints designed and engraved by William Blake.
First edition of William Hayley’s sixteen Ballads illustrated by William Blake, with a fine provenance, plates I–III in the first state.
A patron and friend of Blake, Hayley had conceived his Ballads about various animals ‘expressly for Blake to illustrate and to profit by’ (ODNB). In 1802 a first, partial version of the book had already appeared in periodical form, featuring only four ballads and three plates. For this 1805 edition, Hayley added twelve more ballads while Blake engraved new plates of his designs for three of the 1802 ballads (plates I–III), and both designed and engraved new illustrations for two of the new additions (plates IV–V).
The present copy belonged to the antiquary and bibliographer Thomas Park (1759–1834) and later to the Great War poet Edmund Blunden (1896–1974), with their ownership inscriptions and annotations. On a loose sheet of paper, Blunden pencilled the following comment: ‘The title-page has the signature of Thomas Park, who edited the British poets; and at p. 10 he has a note suggesting he didn’t think much of Blake. “O yes! See frontispiece. What a rescue!”. At p. 210 another note hints his opinion of Hayley. “Nature! The governor of the poet, and what has been the twofold natural consequence? Ask his 2 wives”’.
Bentley, BB, 465.
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