Plays and Poems … in two Volumes …

London, Printed for J. Dodsley … 1774.

Two vols., pp. [8], 304; [4], 326, [2], with the half titles in both volumes, and the errata leaf; a fine copy in the original polished calf, morocco labels; bookplate of Auchincruive House.


US $435€407

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Plays and Poems … in two Volumes …

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First and only edition of the collected works of William Whitehead, a protégé of Alexander Pope and poet laureate from 1757-85.

Volume I collects Whitehead’s plays, including The Roman Father (1750), which enjoyed stunning commercial success, and the less successful but generally critically preferred Creusa (1754). Volume II collects A Trip to Scotland (1770) and Whitehead’s poetry. Ann Boleyn to Henry VIII (1743) and Atys to Adrastus (1744) are among the early pieces which helped make his name as a poet. ‘Sweepers’ is a poem in blank verse which displays a concern for the conditions of the street-sweepers of London.

Whitehead was spotted while still at Winchester by Alexander Pope who employed him to translate the first epistle of the Essay on Man into Latin verse. He went on to survive under the patronage of various wealthy families, and was appointed poet laureate following the death of Colley Cibber in 1757 (Thomas Gray, the first choice, had turned it down).

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