8 December 2015
POPE, Alexander – DRAYTON, Michael (1563-1631). England’s Heroical Epistles, written in imitation of the stile and manner of Ovid’s Epistles. London: J. Hazard, L. Gilliver and J. Clarke, and R. Dodsley, 1737.
12° (162 x 92mm). Engraved frontispiece by P. Fourdrinier. (A8 with small pieces torn from fore-margin, I5 slightly torn, some light spotting and browning.) Contemporary calf (rebacked, with new label and gilt tooling). Provenance: Alexander Pope (signed ‘A. Pope’ at head of front free endpaper).
POPE’S SIGNED COPY OF DRAYTON’S EPISTLES. No sale catalogue exists of Pope’s library as his books were all bequests. As Maynard Mack relates, Martha Blount was authorised to choose sixty for herself; nearly all the rest went by testament to Ralph Allen and William Warburton. Warburton’s marriage to Allen’s niece and eventual heir meant that, on Allen’s death in 1764, the portion that had gone to his house at Prior Park was reunited with Warburton’s portion at the bishop’s palace, Gloucester. Warburton was “unfortunately … in the habit of giving away to his friends books that had belonged to Pope.” Those that remained after his death in 1779 were bought by Richard Hurd and housed at Hartlebury Castle where a number remain today (Collected in Himself (Newark, 1982), 308-9). Drayton’s twenty-four verse epistles were imitations of Ovid’s Heroides or “Letters from Heroines” in elegiac verse, the first of their kind in English. An enormous success with Elizabethan readers, they have particular relevance to Pope’s Eloisa to Abelard since this was likewise an imitation of the Heroides, drawing its story from John Hughes’s Letters of Abelard and Heloisa, a 1713 translation from the French of Bayle. Not in Mack’s “Finding List of Books surviving from Pope’s Library” in Collected in Himself, 394-460).
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