Item #4987 The Poets' Corner. Max Beerbohm.
The Poets' Corner

The Poets' Corner

London: William Heinemann, 1904. First Edition. Item #4987

Twenty color lithograph plates. (Folio) cloth-backed pictorial boards. Rebacked. First Edition. Boards worn at edges, rebacked, book plate on front paste down. Overall Very Good+ condition. A well known title for the collector's library.

Includes a note regarding the provenance of this edition on Balliol College/Oxford letterhead:

Dear Nitya:
I hope you like Beerbohm. Do read Zulecha (?). You can get better copies in a Avenue(?) than here. I was afraid that the "Poet's Corner" was too topical, but somehow, on reading it over, it seems to fall right in line with your divine revenue of humor. It is a First and they are getting rare; so sell the piano first if worse comes to worse./Tom/ Omar, Tennyson and Wordsworth are my favorites."

20 color plates by Beerbohm of Omar Khayyam, Robert Browning, Goethe, Matthew Arnold, Henrik Ibsen, Lord Byron, Walt Whitman, Austin Dobson, Edmund Gosse, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Rudyard Kipling.


A very short note on the rather interesting Max Beerbohm:

Max Beerbohm was a writer, essayist, and artist who, though less famous than some of his contemporaries, was admired and praised by many literary giants of his time, such as George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf. He was known for his witty and elegant prose, as well as his brilliant and humorous caricatures of prominent figures.

He was born in London in 1872 and educated at Oxford, where he became a regular at the Café Royal, “the haunt of intellect and daring,” with patrons including Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley. His brother was Herbert Beerbohm Tree, a renowned actor and theater manager who produced plays by Wilde and Shaw at His Majesty’s Theater. There, young Max mingled with artists, writers, and actors, and developed a keen sense of observation and satire.

At the age of 25, he was handpicked by Shaw as his successor for the position of drama critic for the Saturday Review. He also published his first book, The Works of Max Beerbohm, a collection of parodies and essays. His most famous work, however, was The Poet’s Corner, a series of caricatures of famous poets, accompanied by witty captions. In one plate titled “Mr. W. B. Yeats presenting Mr. George Moore to the Queen of the Fairies,” Beerbohm poked fun at the writer’s beliefs about rural fae lore. He was able to capture, with a mix of warmth and jest, affectations and eccentricities of his subjects, and his caricatures became legendary.

Writer Edith Wharton said that dining with Max “was like suddenly growing wings” and Shaw called him “The Incomparable Max.” His essays impressed even Virginia Woolf, who gushed over him uncharacteristically: “If you knew how I had poured over your essays…how they fill me with marvel…how I can’t conceive what it would be like to write as you do.”

He insisted that “the perfect caricature (be it of handsome man or hideous or an insipid) must be the exaggeration of the whole caricature, from top to toe…The whole man must be melted down, as in a crucible, and then, as from the solution, be fashioned anew. He must emerge with not one particle of himself lost, yet with not a particle of himself as it was before.”

One of his favorite possessions was a convex mirror, “There is no poetry in a straight mirror—just a reproduction of life. But what one sees in a convex mirror is a complete picture.” He had owned it since his nursery days. “I began to think of all that it had seen since my father bought it…I began to see this mirror as a collaborator, with memories of its own. I began to write a novel about it, an autobiographical novel called ‘The Mirror of the Past’.” This novel was never completed.

He had a storied life, moving to Italy at the height of his success, away from the public eye. During both world wars, he provided BBC radio commentary about life during tumultuous times of war. Friend and feminist critic and writer Rebecca West referred to Beerbohm as “the last civilized man on earth.” And despite years of caricaturing the Royal Family, he was knighted in 1939.

Price: $150.00  other currencies