LONGFELLOW, HENRY WADSWORTH. 1807-1882.
Autograph Manuscript, being the complete poem "Saga of The Skeleton in Armor," 8 pp recto and verso, 4to, n.p., [1839-1840], ink in double columns, with the 20 stanzas of the poem to the left, and the shoulder notes along the right, each sheet inlaid, with minor repairs to central folds and edges. Bound in olive levant morocco, gilt, front joint started, moisture damage to covers.
Provenance: Mrs. Edith Rockefeller McCormick; Walter Chrysler (1875-1940, morocco bookplate); sale Parke-Bernet, December 8, 1954; John F. Fleming, sale Christie's, November 18, 1988.
Appearing in the Knickerbocker in January 1841, "Saga of the Skeleton in Armor" was an instant success. The result of years of Scandinavian study, the ballad represented a new thematic direction for the poet, and, on the eve of the poem's publication, he noted in a letter to his father, "I hope it may be successful; though I fear, that those who only glance at it, will not fully comprehend me." Ultimately, Longfellow was encouraged enough by the enthusiastic response that he included it as the opening poem in his 1842 collection Ballads and Other Poems (under the shortened title, "The Skeleton in Armor"). The prose gloss that appeared in the shoulder was dropped for the book publication as well as all subsequent printings.
The present manuscript includes holograph changes to the title, as well as instructions to typesetters in another hand, and was the manuscript used for the initial appearance in the Knickerbocker. A superb Longfellow manuscript of one of his most enduring and beloved ballads.