LEAR, Edward (1812-1888) -- Alfred, Lord TENNYSON (1809-1892). Idylls of the King. London: Bradbury and Evans for Edward Moxon & Co., 1859.
8° (171 x 109mm). Half-title, 8-page publisher's catalogue dated July 1859 bound in before front free endpaper. (Scattered light spotting, some leaves creased.) Original green cloth, boards panelled in blind, spine lettered in gilt (extremities lightly rubbed, spine faded, a little shaken). Provenance: Edward Lear (inscription in Lear's hand on title 'Edward Lear. July 12./59' with presentation inscription in Tennyson's hand 'from Alfred Tennyson'.
FIRST EDITION, [?]FIRST ISSUE. PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY TENNYSON, AND USED BY LEAR FOR HIS TENNYSON ILLUSTRATIONS. Lear met Tennyson in 1850 or 1851 through Franklin Lushington. Lushington was probably Lear's closest friend and his literary executor and, in turn, Lear was godfather to all of Lushington's children. Although Lear was personally closer to Emily, the poet's wife, he admired Tennyson's work greatly, and in 1852 decided to illustrate his poems, producing drawings to accompany specific lines, a massive project that remained unfinished at Lear's death. This copy was probably inscribed to Lear by Tennyson shortly after Lear had visited the Tennysons in Farringford in early June 1859, when Tennyson had shown and read some of the poems to Lear; '"I have read the Guinevere, which is an absolutely perfect poem--and made me blubber, bottlesful', Lear told Holman Hunt. "And yesterday he read me Elaine--which is nearly equally lovely"' (A. Davidson Edward Lear (London: 1968), p.130). In this copy Lear has pencilled the numbers 1 to 12 in the margins of pp.13-14, 52, 56, 101, 105, 108, 155, 168, 221, 229, 239 and 256, presumably to identify the lines that he wished to illustrate; comparison with Lear's final set of 200 illustrations show that the line on p.221 corresponds to no. 194, that on p.229 to nos 196-9, and that on p.239 to no. 195. (cf. R. Pitman (ed.) Edward Lear's Tennyson, Manchester: 1988).
In this copy Bradbury and Evans' imprint occurs on S3r, but not on verso of the half-title; according to Wise, such copies were 'probably ... the earliest issued'. Wise Tennyson I, 87.