Hopkins Rare Book/Poetry Inspiring Bridge – Poetry News Roundup December 6th

Our final poetry news round-up of the week looks at the acquisition of a rare book by Johns Hopkins, and the poetry inspiring bridge that will be up for auction.

Johns Hopkins Lands Rare Book

Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins have added a rare book to their collection. The book, which was completed circa 1873 by the poet John Addington Symonds, is titled “A Problem in Greek Ethics”. The book is believed to have assisted in setting the stage for the gay-rights movement as we know it today.

The original print run of the book only produced 10 copies. Until recently it was thought that only 5 of those copies were still in existence. However, a 6th copy has now surfaced. The book will be taking pride of place in an exhibit that the university will be putting on about the poet and his work.

The book which was written around 125 years ago by the British literary critic, scholar and poet is the first significant study that was made, in English, about sexuality in ancient Greece. It looks in particular at the fact that relationships between men were not only common but also celebrated. Symonds writing has played a significant role in paving the way for the modern gay-rights movement.

Of course, given the time in which it was written and subsequently published it did it in a rather clandestine manner, behind closed doors. It was printed privately by the poet in 1883, only 10 copies were printed in order to reduce the risks of the boo falling into the wrong hands. The typesetter used by Symonds complained about the contents of the book. The book was circulated by the author himself and only to people who he believed he could trust.

The copy that Johns Hopkins have managed to acquire has handwritten notes from the author in the margins. Some of the words are crossed out and others underlined.

The book was found by chance when one of the library staff was searching on the internet for examples of Symond’s handwriting in order to make some checks on items for the exhibit. A set of letters for sale via a rare book dealer popped up and when she looked further it was discovered that the book was included in the sale.

The book will now take pride of place as the star of the upcoming exhibition together with a letter written by Symonds to Sir Richard Burton, the British explorer and scholar, who he sent the book to. There is also a letter that Burton sent back just a few days later.

The Ultimate Gift?

If you are looking for the ultimate Christmas gift then a 200 year old grade II listed bridge in Keswick will shortly be going up for auction with no reserve price.

The Calvert bridge crosses the River Greta in Keswick and was the inspiration for the sonnet “To the River Greta” written by William Wordsworth in 1823. Wordsworth named the bride after William Calvert, the inventor, and the name stayed.

Whilst a £1 bid might start the ball rolling at the auction there is an admin fee of £1500 attached to the auction.

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