MOORE, Thomas (1779-1852). Autograph manuscript, 'Notes of my reading for Lalla Rookh', n.d., 1812-1816, title on upper cover, densely written, including a number of verse passages, 103 leaves, 4to, a few blanks and page-stubs, original boards, rebacked. Provenance: Eugene Field (signature on f.1 and occasional annotations); presented to him by 'Dr Frank Gruzalders[?]' (note on front endpaper by Eugene Field II, 9 November 1931).
Moore's Lalla Rookh was one of the most deliberate and successful of all attempts to make money through poetry.
THE SOURCE BOOK FOR ONE OF THE MOST CELEBRATED POEMS OF THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY
In the wake of his marriage in 1811, and already known for Irish Melodies, Moore 'found the necessity of increasing his means, and determined upon a great poetic effort. So high was his ability rated that his friend Perry, of the Morning Chronicle, found no difficulty in enforcing on Longmans the stipulation that Moore should receive not less than the highest sum ever given for a poem. That, Longmans said, was £3,000, which they agreed to pay without having seen a line of the projected work. Moore chose an Eastern subject, wisely, for Byron had made the East the fashion. After many unsuccessful experiments, he hit upon the idea of Lalla Rookh, shut himself up at Mayfield with a library of books upon the East, and by 1815 had produced enough to induce him to offer the publishers a sight of the manuscript. They declined, saying that they felt unbounded confidence in him. When at last the poem was completed in the commercially disastrous year 1816, Moore, with equal magnanimity, offered to rescind the contract if the publishers' affairs rendered this course expedient. They remained firm; Lalla Rookh was published in 1817, and at once gained a success rivalling Scott and Byron. Moore's fame speedily became European; perhaps no English poem of that age has been so frequently translated' (DNB). In fact there is some justification for thinking that Moore used his Eastern settings as a guise for speaking of Ireland; but his deliberate creation was indubitably one of the most commercially successful poems of its age.
The present manuscript shows the systematic way in which Moore worked, and the depth of detail he obtained: the works cited include 'The Persian Tales', 'Russel's Aleppo', 'Forster's Voyage', 'Asiatic Researches Vol.1', 'Volnay's Travels -- Vol.2', 'Sir W. Jones's Works', 'Richardson's Dictionary', 'Le Bruijn's Travels', 'Modern Universal History. Vol 1', 'Asiatick Miscellany Vol.1', 'Ebu Hankal's Geography', 'Ouseley's Persian Miscellany', 'Memoires de l'Academie', 'Perry's View of the Levant', 'Drummond's Travels', 'Scott's Translation of Ferishta's History of Dekkan', 'Dow's Hindostan' and others.