Lot 472
TENNYSON, ALFRED (1809-1892)
Sold for £ 10,000 (US$ 13,490) inc. premium

Lot Details
TENNYSON, ALFRED (1809-1892)
PAGE PROOFS FOR TENNYSON'S [OTHER] POEM 'TO THE QUEEN', WITH SUBSTANTIVE AUTOGRAPH REVISIONS AND RECONSIDERED READINGS, IN EFFECT A DRAFT, WITH THE TEXT OF A MANUSCRIPT UNPUBLISHED LETTER FROM TENNYSON TO QUEEN VICTORIA, some printed and autograph words and lines scored through, the revisions largely made to about seven lines [c. 50 words in Tennyson's hand]; the poem being the 'Epilogue' at the end of 'Idylls of the King', preserving reconsidered readings; the wrapper annotated by 'J[ames] T[homas] K[nowles]', Tennyson's architect and 'Boswell' ('Please send this back to me with revise J T K') and also dated in another small neat hand '(2) Dec. 29, 1872' [? by Isbister at Strahan's or the Chiswick Press]; preceded by six page proofs of the end of 'The Passing of Arthur', also annotated by Knowles ('note - a whole blank leaf between this & the epilogue') [this note is written over a pencil instruction to the same effect]; two of Tennyson's revisions are made clearer in versions written in pencil in the margins at right-angles to the text (in an unidentified contemporary hand); running head titles marked for deletion; and bound with an unrelated autograph letter signed by Hallam Tennyson ('H.T') to Knowles dated July [18]78; and also the text of an unpublished letter or address to Queen Victoria [from Tennyson] written in another (unidentified) contemporary hand, the proof sheets for 'To the Queen' 4 pages, those for 'The Passing of Arthur' 6 pages - both (on book paper not galleys) a little worn and formerly folded, Hallam's letter 1 page, the text of Tennyson's letter to Victoria 3 pages, quarto, later crushed brown morocco by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, gilt monogram of Queen Victoria on both covers, [Farringford, 24 December 1872]

O loyal to the royal in thyself,
And loyal to thy land, as this to thee--
Bear witness, that remarkable day,
When, pale, as yet, & fever worn, the Prince
Who scarce had pluck'd his flickering life again
From halfway down the shadow of the grave,
Past with thee thro' thy people and their love,
And London roll'd one tide of joy thro' all
Her treble millions, and loud leagues of man...

NO OTHER MANUSCRIPTS OF THIS EPILOGUE OR OF THE LETTER ARE RECORDED. THIS IS A HITHERTO UNKNOWN PRINTED PROOF ANNOTATED BY TENNYSON; there are one or two unrecorded printed words (for instance the word 'from' in print in line 4) and some unrecorded words in Tennyson's hand (especially 'reconsidered reconsidered' lines parlt deleted) that were not known to Pfordresher.

These page proofs were first intended for publication in The Contemporary Review, having been printed at the 'Chiswick Press: - By Whittingham and Wilkins, Tooks Court, Chancery Lane' (this colophon crossed through evidently by Tennyson himself), in December 1872. The publication of the poem was in fact delayed until it was printed in the sixth volume of Strahan's Imperial Library edition of Tennyson's Works published in 1873. Knowles was acting in an unofficial editorial capacity for Alexander Strahan (see letter described below) of The Contemporary Review, and his over-writing earlier pencil instructions to the printer in another hand is perhaps indicative of his over-keenness to register his own involvement.

Tennyson explained the reasons why they had to 'give up the Review' in a letter to Knowles dated by Lang and Shannon to [24 December 1872]: 'The Queen would have to see the poem first (at least it would be only courteous to let her see it first) and there is no time...' In that same letter Tennyson stated: 'I send you the last corrections of the Epilogue...Please send this on to Isbister.' Since all the changes (except deletions) on the present page proofs were incorporated in the Imperial Edition it is likely that the present proofs are the last ones to which Tennyson refers in his letter. Hallam Tennyson in his Memoir of his father, volume ii. pp.119-120, notes: 'To my father's favourite Library Edition (1872 [error for 1873]) published by Strahan were added this year...the "Epilogue" to the "Idylls of the King"'. Hallam also quotes from his mother's journal for 25 December 1872: 'I have copied out for press the "Epilogue to the Idylls" he has just written: "O loyal to the royal in thyself'..."' The proofs were perhaps received by the press on the date indicated on the wrapper, 29 December.

Some of the deleted words in Tennyson's hand are also not recorded. In the final text printed in the Imperial Edition Tennyson's ampersands were expanded as also were such ellipses as "thro', so while these proofs were probably used for that Edition, there were some minor alterations subsequent to the stage represented herein.

In the unpublished letter or address to the Queen written in yet another hand and bound with the page proofs Tennyson tells her why he has dedicated the 'Idylls' to [Prince Albert: i.e. 'to a royal man...the soul of the royal thing is man and Arthur stands for the Soul - and a loyalty has always followed the story of him from the beginning an inability to really die'] and that the object and meaning of his book is 'to show what spiritual royalty is & means'. Queen Victoria replied to Tennyson on 26 February 1873, thanking him for 'the noble, heart-stirring words addressed to her, & which were a complete surprise' and adding 'her dear Husband whom he knew how to appreciate & so beautifully described' [in the Epilogue] (see Sotheby's catalogue 1980).

Also included in the lot is part of a long letter of 14 February 1908 (5 pages, octavo, Oakhurst, Ravenscourt), to the editor of the Daily Chronicle, found serendipitously and independently of the proofs, in which Alexander Strahan (1833-1918) explains his version of the role Knowles had in his business, refuting the idea that the latter had been editor of the Contemporary Review, a position Strahan claimed he himself held (as also the ownership of the Review). He does, however, make clear how it was that Knowles who acted in an editorial capacity in this instance: 'One day a stranger [Knowles] came into my office, and presented a letter of introduction from Mr Tennyson, whose works I was then publishing. It ran thus:- "Dear Mr Strahan [,] Mr Knowles, who carries this to you, is a friend of mine. He has a hankering after literature and specially desirous of being initiated into the mysteries of editing. If you, to whom the secret seems to have been revealed, can put Knowles in the way of getting the experience he desires, without trouble to yourself, pray do so, and oblige me Yours truly A Tennyson.' THIS LETTER BY TENNYSON STRAHAN IS ALSO OTHERWISE UNKNOWN. Priscilla Metcalf, in her biography of Knowles, refers to a letter from Strahan to Tennyson himself in which he again claimed that he employed Knowles only to oblige the poet who he said had asked him to 'find some literary occupation' for Knowles. 'Be that as it may,' she glosses over the whole subject, 'Consulting editor, it appears, was the term used at first...it amounted to Knowles conducting his relations with authors and publisher from his own house and architectural office.' Metcalf, perhaps rightly, suggests that Strahan, writing after the events, was influenced too much by the later difficulties between himself and Knowles ('When a lie has got a good start as this one undoubtedly has, it is difficult if not impossible to catch it up.).

In an attempt at clarification it may be helpful to extrapolate that Tennyson, Knowles and one other unidentified person (the last writing in pencil at right-angles to the text making two of Tennyson's revisions clearer) annotated the proofs. The letter to the Queen at the beginning is written in a further unidentified hand. The dated 'Dec. 29, 1872' is in a further contemporary hand [?Isbister]. Then there is the letter by Hallam Tennyson (once thought to be in his father's hand leading to the wonderful - for me - conclusion that the revisions on the proof were not in Alfred Tennyson's own handwriting)

James Thomas Knowles (1806-1884), architect, agreed in 1866 to design Tennyson's new house Aldworth on condition that there was no fee. This led to a close friendship, with Knowles assisting Tennyson in various business matters, and to his being involved in designing the scenery for The Cup. Knowles became Tennyson's self-appointed Boswell, visiting him and recording his conversation, much of which material Knowles used in the reminiscence of Tennyson he published three months after the latter's death.

REFERENCES: The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson, edited by Cecil Lang and Edgar Shannon, 3 volumes, 1990; Hallam Tennyson, Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir, 2 volumes, 1897; Christopher Ricks, Tennyson, 1972 and 1989; Lady Tennyson's Journal, edited by James O. Hoge, 1981, pp. 348-350; Sotheby's, 22 July 1980, The Tennyson Papers, lot 440; Priscilla Metcalf, James Knowles: Victorian Editor and Architect, 1980; Tennyson Archive, edited by Christopher Ricks and Aidan Day, 31 volumes, 1987-1993 (manuscripts relating to the Epilogue not present); John Pfordresher, A Variorum Edition of Tennyson's Idylls of a King, 1973. I am grateful to the Librarian and Deputy-Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, for permission to use their resources, and to Christopher Ricks for his interest and help.
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  1. Simon Roberts
    Specialist - Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
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