Publisher's presentation copy of the first edition, first issue of Stevenson's enduring collection of children's verse.
"Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,<br />Wary of the weather and steering by a star?"<br />
The first major collection of poetry for children to capture the popular imagination, and still the most immune to the passage of time long after most Victorian sentimental verse has fallen away from the general memory. An uncanny spirit moves in and under Stevenson's gently rhythmic verses, most particularly in the nine poems of "A Child Alone": here, the child-subject and child-reader is captain of her ship and master of her lonely kingdom; his only companions his books, his doll, a "child of air," a "playmate that never was seen," or no-one at all but the moon. The first issue contained only 1000 copies (ref. Prideaux).
A beautiful copy, with a contemporary inscription by Sarah Anne Byles to politician [T].D. Sullivan, M.P. on St. Patrick's Day, 1888; Lady Byles was an active supporter of Home Rule (unlike Stevenson himself) and later president of the Women's National Liberal Association.
Read more: Cornelia Meigs, A Critical History of Children's Literature; Prideaux, Les Livres De L'Enfance, #5440; McKay, A Stevenson library: a catalogue of a collection of writings by and about Robert Louis Stevenson, #192-#194.
London: Longmans, Green, and Co, 1885. 6.5'' x 4.5'' Original bevelled blue cloth with gilt publisher's device to front cover. Gilt-lettered spine, with "of" in smaller type and normal apostrophe. Top edge gilt, other edges uncut. "Two Series" not present in list "by the same author" (ref. Beinecke). , x, 101 pages. Gift inscription from Lady Byles on half-title. Publisher's presentation blind stamp to title page. Toning to endpapers. Minor edgewear and light scuffing to boards, spine faintly sunned; gilt lettering still bright.
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