London: Printed by J[ohn]. G[rismond]. for Rich. Marriott, at his shop under S. Dunstans Church in Fleet-street, 1664.
Octavo: 17 x 11 cm. , 236, , 237-242 pp. A-P8, Q8, R4 (-blank lvs. Q8 and R4). With the imprimatur leaf A1 and the errata leaf Q7 (bound at end).
THE RARE UNAUTHORIZED FIRST EDITION.
This was the only edition published in Philips’ lifetime. Philips’ died of smallpox in June 1664, five months after the appearance of this publication. The first authorized edition did not appear until 1667. Bound in contemporary blind-ruled English sheepskin, upper hinge on lower board starting (a 1.5 in. split), minor edge and surface wear. Contents in excellent condition. Title and imprimatur leaf with a contemporary (i.e. 17th c.) light yellow wash applied (I have seen this curious feature in 2 other copies.) light spots to leaf c4. An attractive copy.
Katherine Philips’ “Poems” is perhaps the most famous 17th c. collection of poems by an Englishwoman. “In her, for the first time in the history of English letters, a woman was received into the select company of poets.”(Souers). Jeremy Taylor dedicated to her his “Discourse on the Nature, Offices, and Measures of Friendship;” Abraham Cowley, Henry Vaughan, Thomas Flatman, the Earl of Roscommon, and the Earl of Cork and Orrery all celebrated her talent, and Dryden could pay no higher compliment to Anne Killigrew than to compare her to Orinda.
While unauthorized, this first edition includes much of value. Souers, in his bio-bibliography of Philips, writes “True, in many ways, it differs from the later editions; but it is as often correct as they are, so that it would be difficult to accept either as the only and true copy. Sometimes the variations are important. For instance, the 1664 edition gives additional couplets which are well worth preserving, and offers in its headings clues to the identity of the persons addressed.” For a fuller account of this edition’s publication, including Philips’ efforts to suppress it, see Souers, The Matchless Orinda, p. 231-135)
“In 1664 an unauthorized edition of Philips's Poems was published; the bookseller Richard Marriott had entered the volume in the Stationers' register in November 1663 and advertised it for sale in January. Philips, claiming she ‘never writ any line in my life with an intention to have it printed’, expressed her indignation in a number of letters, defending herself against any ‘malicious’ suggestion that she ‘conniv'd at this ugly accident’: ‘I am so Innocent of this pitifull design of a Knave to get a Groat, yt I was never more vex'd at any thing, & yt I utterly disclaim whatever he hath so unhandsomly expos'd’ (Letters, 128, 142). Some twentieth-century critics are sceptical of these conventional disclaimers: the 1664 edition is based on manuscripts that Philips herself circulated among friends (not at all ‘abominably transcrib'd’ and inauthentic, as she claims), and the text of the seventy-five poems it contains differs only slightly from that in the later, authorized edition of 1667. Yet her distress at seeing poems she considered private, circulated within a literary community of intimate friends, exposed to public gaze, goes beyond the conventional: ‘Tis only I … that cannot so much as think in private, that must have my imaginations rifled and exposed to play the Mountebanks, and dance upon the Ropes to entertain all the rabble’ (Ibid. 129–30).”(Warren Chernaik, ODNB).
ESTC R13274; Wing (CD-Rom, 1996), P2032