Important acquisitions

Cynthio to Leonora: the last poem of William Falconer

Author Falconer, William
Title Cynthio to Leonora: the last poem of William Falconer
Imprint London : R T. Harvey and Co.
Date of Publication 1825
Language English
Notes William Falconer, born in Edinburgh in 1732, was both a sailor and poet. As a young man he joined a merchant vessel at Leith where he served his apprenticeship. Afterwards, he was servant to Archibald Campbell (1726?-1780) who was then purser on a man-of-war. Campbell was the author of Lexiphanes: A Dialogue Imitated from Lucian (1774), and it was he who discovered and encouraged Falconer's literary tastes. In 1751 Falconer published a poem on the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales and contributed a few poems to the 'Gentleman's Magazine.' In 1762 he published his chief poem, the 'Shipwreck,' which was partly based upon his own earlier experience of being one of only three survivors of a shipwreck on a voyage from Alexandria to Venice. Although the preface to Cynthio to Leonora states that "the circumstances under which the following poem came into our possession, sufficiently evidence of its being the production of the author of the 'Shipwreck'", the attribution is, in fact, false. Cynthio to Leonora was first published in the Gentleman's Magazine for June and July 1738 (vol. viii, pp. 319, 370-1) and dated 1736. At that date Falconer would have been only 4 years old. Reasons for a publisher in 1825 reviving a poem written nearly a century earlier may have to do with Falconer's enormous popularity in the first decades of the 19th century. By 1820 there were at least 46 different editions and impressions of 'The Shipwreck' and his works had been praised by Bryon and referred to by Coleridge in Sibylline Leaves. The temptation to publish a hitherto 'unpublished' Falconer poem was clearly too good an opportunity to pass up. The pamphlet is nevertheless extremely rare and may be only extant copy: no bibliographic records have been found for it in NSTC, NUC, OCLC, RLIN, the Library of Congress, British Library, or the libraries at Harvard and Yale. It is bound together with four other titles: Man and the Animals by Mrs. Gordon; The Highlanders and Other Poems by Mrs. Grant, and Human Life, a Poem by Samuel Rogers.
Shelfmark ABS.1.203.043(4)
Reference Sources DNB Shipwreck, A Poem: with the life of the author / by J. S. Clarke. London, 1811.
Acquired on 28/07/03
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