Four parts in one vol., 8vo, ff. 71, [1 (blank)]; 48; 55, [1 (blank)]; 96; signatures continuous, text in italic, separate title-pages to each book with woodcut device, woodcut initials; occasional light marks; very good in contemporary limp vellum with yapp edges and remains of green ties; staining to upper cover, some creasing and light wear; stamp of ‘Greve Scheel’ and 1599 ownership inscription ‘Georgius Schiell’ to title-page, 3 French love poems in a near-contemporary hand to rear free endpaper totalling 54 lines (‘Helas permetras tu’, ‘Amour ma pris par la ficelle’, ‘Odieux qui du pourpris celeste’), French love verse in another near-contemporary hand to front endpapers, totalling 23 lines, later ownership inscription ‘Jehan’ to front free endpaper, crossed out in ink.
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Libro primo [- quarto] delle lettere amorose di M. Girolamo Parabosco. Con alcune altre di nuovo aggiunte.
Uncommon collected edition of Girolamo Parabosco’s (1524–1557) immensely popular letters to anonymous lovers, literary contemporaries, and a courtesan, with several letters written from a female point of view, this copy formerly in the possession of Tycho Brahe’s nephew and with several manuscript love poems.
The sixteenth century saw an exponential increase in the demand for vernacular collections of letters, particularly for material that reflected women’s voices. Parabosco’s impersonation of the authentic female perspective in his ‘lettere scritte per donne’ (vol. I, ff. 52v-58v; vol. III, ff. 17v-18r, ff. 32v-33r) is perhaps born of a desire to capitalise upon the ‘demand for women’s letters that was not being fully met, given that women still published in far smaller numbers than men’ (Ray, p. 14).
Addressed to anonymous male interlocutors, the letters present female authors characterised by lovesickness and passion: ‘I languish for you, my sweet lord … even if your beauty is matched only by your cruelty’ (vol. IV, ff. 5v-6r, trans.). The letters included in vol. IV are followed by Parabosco’s responses in order to display his mastery of the epistolary genre. His letters epitomise the seeming effortlessness prized by readers and writers of lettere familiari alike: as contemporary writer Lucrezia Gonzaga writes, his letters are neither ‘clothed in artifice, nor puffed up from excessive revision, but rather speak plainly’ (Ray, p. 3, trans.). Indeed, Parabosco’s Lettere amorose were among the most popular anthologies of letters of his time, volume I alone having been reprinted thirty-two times between 1541 and 1617. They seem to have been affected neither by the 1580 condemnation of love letters by the Index of Parma, nor of anonymous love letters by the Index of Sixtus V in 1590 (ibid., p. 231).
Provenance: with the stamp and 1599 ownership inscription of Georg Schiell (i.e. Jørgen Christiensen Skeel, 1578–1631). The nephew of Tycho Brahe, Skeel was named head of Denmark’s military (Rigsmarsk) in 1627, the highest office in the realm after the king’s deputy and chancellor (Dansk Biografisk Leksikon). Brahe had arranged for Skeel’s older brother, Albret, to study at the University of Padua in 1590; Jørgen followed in Albret’s footsteps shortly afterwards, studying civil affairs at the universities of Strasbourg (1590-92), Orleans (1596), and Padua (1597), additionally stopping at Venice and Naples before returning to Denmark in 1598. The present copy, dated only a year later, is perhaps a souvenir of his studies in Italy.
Adams P255; BM STC Italian, p. 489. See M.K. Ray, Writing Gender in Women’s Letter Collections of the Italian Renaissance (2009), and, on Skeel, Historia scholae cathedralis Arhusiensis (1817), pp. 90-91.
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‘A DESCRIPTION OF POWIS CASTLE’ DONOUGHUE, A.
An Essay on the Passions: with other Poems … Shrewsbury: Printed by T. Wood … for P. Owen … Welshpool; sold by Champante and Whitrow … London, and all the Booksellers in Shrewsbury. 1799.
First edition. ‘I have felt as many woes as ever tore the bosom of a Petrarch’, writes the author in the Preface, ‘and have struggled with as many penurious calamities as ever agonized the soul of a Chatterton; will not then a generous public pardon my presumption, when informed, that I woke my simple and unaspiring reed, but to claim the obolum of commiseration ….’ Unsurprisingly the verse is pretty dreadful. In addition to the title poem the volume includes ‘Hamet and Almena, an Oriental Tale’, ‘A Description of Powis Castle and its Environs’, and miscellaneous shorter poems.
The subscribers come mainly from Welshpool and thereabouts, including the Earl of Powis (12 copies).
Uncommon. ESTC records copies at BL, Cambridge, National Library of Ireland, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Chicago.