‘MISS HURRICANE’ ON THE TOMBS OF THE ENGLISH ROMANTICS IN ROME

Sepolcri inglesi a Roma. 

Rome, Tipografia Barbera, 1879. 

8vo, pp. 21, [1 (blank)], with 2 leaves with original photographs (gelatin silver prints), each captioned in manuscript below, depicting the gravestones of Keats and Shelley; a very good copy in the original printed wrappers.

£400

Approximately:
US $485€473

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First edition, extremely rare, of this offprint of an article on the burials of the English Romantic poets in Rome by the renowned ‘Miss Hurricane’. 

Jessie White Mario (1832–1906) was a remarkable character, hailed as an Italian national hero, and nicknamed ‘Miss Hurricane’ for her incredible stamina, commitment to the cause of Italian unification, and dedication to philanthropic work, especially among the poor of southern Italy. 

‘Jessie White Mario made her literary debut in Eliza Cook’s Journal, but it was her involvement in the Italian Risorgimento (sometimes as a spy) that fostered her career as a journalist, translator, propagandist, lecturer, and biographer.  Her service as a field nurse during Garibaldi’s various campaigns informed her war correspondence printed in English and American periodicals.  From 1866 until her death in 1906, she wrote one hundred and forty-three articles on Italian life and politics for the Nation.  She also penned important biographies of many Italian figures, including Garibaldi and Mazzini.’ (Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present, Cambridge University online). 

In this article, which was published in the journal Nuova Antologia of 15 May of the same year (but in this offprint format enriched by two original photographs), inspired by the recent death of William Howitt (1792–1879), the last in a long list of British writers, poets, and travellers to be buried in Rome, White Mario recounts the life, works, death, funeral, and burial of John Keats (1795–1821) and Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), both buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.  Rather than illustrating Keats’s tombstone, as for Shelley’s, the author chooses to illustrate instead a plaque bearing a relief of Keats and a short acrostic verse spelling out the poet’s name, which was added on a nearby wall to guide visitors to an otherwise unnamed grave.  A young Oscar Wilde, on a visit to Keats’s grave in the spring of 1877, described it as ‘the holiest spot in Rome’; he was, however, less impressed by the plaque, writing: ‘I do not think this very ugly thing ought to be allowed to remain’. 

OCLC finds a single copy outside of Italy, at the British Library. 

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