Important acquisitions

English Bards and Scotch reviewers. A satire.

Author Lord Byron
Title English Bards and Scotch reviewers. A satire.
Imprint London: William Benbow,
Date of Publication 1821
Language English
Notes This is one of several pirated editions of Byron's famous satirical poem "English Bards and Scotch reviewers" printed in England after 1816, when Byron had left the country, never to return. "English Bards" was first published in 1809 as a riposte from Byron to a stinging review in The Edinburgh Review of his first published volume of poetry "Hours of Idleness". Four official editions of the poem were printed by his publisher Cawthorn, between 1809 and 1811, to meet the large popular demand for it. However, by 1812, after contemplating but rejecting the publication of a fifth edition, Byron decided to remove the poem from circulation. He then decided to switch his patronage to the publisher John Murray, which led to Cawthorn continuing to print "English Bards" in defiance of his instructions, all without payment to the author. In 1816 Byron was granted an injunction preventing Cawthorn from continuing to print the work. The injunction, however, failed to stop piracies by other printers, such as this one by William Benbow, subsequently appearing on the market. Benbow (1784-c. 1852) was a political radical, who had set up in business in London in 1820 as a bookseller and publisher of pornography. During his relatively brief, but eventful, career as a bookseller and publisher, he regularly found himself in trouble with the law due to his relaxed attitude towards the laws of libel and copyright. Between 1821 and 1825 he published piracies of a number of Byron's works, including another printing of "English Bards" in 1823. In 1822 he was prosecuted, unsuccessfully, for a pirated edition of Byron's "Cain". This particular copy of Benbow's 1821 edition, of which only three copies are recorded in COPAC, also contains two MS letters connected with a former owner of it, J. Aitken. One is a letter dated August 1922 by John Murray (IV), the publisher, thanking Aitken for alerting him to the existence of the 1821 Benbow edition, which is not listed Ernest Hartley Coleridge's bibliography of the works of Byron despite Coleridge taking "infinite pains to make that bibliography complete". The other letter, from 1938, is a copy of one sent to the American librarian and bibliographer Gilbert H. Doane (1897-1980) at the University of Wisconsin. Aitken writes to Doane having been informed that the latter was preparing a bibliography of Byron (there is no record of a published bibliography by Doane). He gives details of the 1821 edition, pointing out that it has different pagination and contents to the 1823 Benbow edition (which is recorded in Coleridge's bibliography), and offers to send it to Doane to help him with the bibliography. He concludes his copy letter by announcing his intention, ultimately, to present his book to the National Library of Scotland; over 73 years later the book has finally made it to NLS.
Shelfmark AB.2.212.07
Reference Sources G. Redgrave, "The first four editions of 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers'" in The Library series 2, v.1 (December 1899), pp. 18-25. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on 17/02/12
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