FLETCHER, Phineas (1582-1650). The Purple island, or The isle of man: together with Piscatorie eclogs and other poeticall miscellanies. Cambridge: [T. Buck and R. Daniel, printers to the] University Press, 1633.
4° (184 x 149mm). Title printed in red and black, separate titles to Piscatorie eclogs and Elisa, type-ornament borders and headpieces, university printer's device on title, a larger device repeated as tailpiece throughout, factotum and ornamental initials. With all three blank leaves [\\h1, Z4, *1], blind impression of \\h3v on *1v. Contemporary limp vellum, partial remnant of one fore-edge tie, title lettered on spine; modern brown roan-backed chemise, brown cloth slipcase. Provenance: Robert Howard (early inscription on back cover and front pastedown) -- John Buxton, 1634 (1608-60, High Sheriff of Norfolk, MP; signature) -- John Buxton 1713 (1685-1731, of Shadwell, Norfolk; signature) -- Shadwell Court Library (Buxton family seat, Norfolk; armorial bookplate) -- [sale Sotheby's, 17 April 1951, 'Property of a Lady', lot 457 to King, 1953 catalogue description laid in] -- purchased from Raphael King, London, 2 July 1953, £42.
A VERY FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Fletcher's extended utopian allegorical poem uses an examination of the human body to investigate the body politic and absolute power. In so doing he describes in detail physical anatomy. Fletcher was strongly influenced by Spenser. He is addressed by Quarles in the present work as 'the Spencer of this age', and in William Thompson's opinion, The Purple Island 'was the best in the Allegorical Way, (next to the Fairy Queen) in the English language' (cf. Hayward). Grolier, Langland to Wither, 101; Hayward 67; Pforzheimer 376; STC 11082; Westwood and Satchell 95.