AN INSCRIBED PRESENTATION COPY OF HOPKINS’ MISCELLANY POEMS, PUBLISHED BY HIS GRASSHOPPER PRESS
HOPKINS, Kenneth. Miscellany Poems. London: A.A. Tanner and Son for The Grasshopper Press, 1946.
Octavo in 12s (210 x 130mm), pp. . (Very lightly creased, offsetting from staples on inner gutters). Stapled into original green printed wrappers, as issued. (Extremities very lightly rubbed and bumped, upper margin of lower wrapper a little darkened, staples somewhat oxidised.) A very good copy in the original wrappers. Provenance: ‘Joan’ (autograph presentation inscription on half-title ‘To Joan – if she collects poetalia, Kenneth’).
First edition. The poet and novelist Kenneth Hopkins (1914-1988) founded the Grasshopper Press because, as he explained in his autobiography The Corruption of a Poet (1956), ‘nobody else would publish my poems’ (p. 224). He was a member of the Saturdays, a London literary club for the appreciation of poetry which was active from the 1940s to the 1960s, and later established the Warren House Press. In addition to his career as a writer and publisher, Hopkins edited anthologies of literature and poetry, and also lectured at a number of American universities. Prefaced with a dedicatory letter from Hopkins to John Cowper Powys (with whose brother Llewelyn he corresponded, and whose works and circle he would write about for the next few decades), Miscellany Poems are Hopkins’ ‘fugitive pieces’ – poems that had not been published elsewhere. The poems address, among other things, the impact of war, and ‘Apology’ states with Hopkins’ characteristic wit that ‘nothing is here that has not been liked by someone, if only myself’ (p. ).
The ‘Joan’ to whom this copy was inscribed may have been the bookseller and publisher Joan Stevens (d. 2015), who (with her husband Eric) had a wide circle of literary associates, including Iris Murdoch and Max Reinhardt of The Bodley Head. Joan Stevens was an expert on Powys and (like Hopkins) was much involved in the Powys Society; certainly, the use of the whimsical term ‘poetalia’ in the inscription makes it likely that she was indeed the recipient of this copy.
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