RAVENNA. Newdigate Prize Poem.
[the fine Bradley Martin copy] Recited in The Theatre, Oxford, June 26, 1878. Oxford: Thos. Shrimpton and Son, 1878. Original grey printed wrappers.
First Edition of Oscar Wilde's first book, the Newdigate Prize-winning poem that he wrote while a student at Magdalen College. To quote from Pearson:
He [Wilde] left Oxford in a blaze of glory. The subject for the Newdigate Prize Poem that year was Ravenna, and it so happened that he had visited the place on his way to Greece [the year before], noting it as a theme for poetic treatment. He could therefore put in bits of local colour which the other competitors had to glean from books. He won the prize, as John Ruskin and Matthew Arnold had done before him, and declaimed the poem in the Sheldonian Theatre on June 26, 1878... When the Professor of Poetry, J.C. Shairp, whose duty it was to suggest textual improvements to the winner of the Newdigate, advised certain alterations, Wilde listened with due courtesy, took careful notes of every suggestion, but went away and printed the poem exactly as he had written it.
In this copy the slip "PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN" is affixed to the title verso. This is a remarkably fine copy of this very delicate piece (light browning as usual around the edges of the wrappers, but no wear). Though not really as scarce an item as one might expect for a first effort, this is THE copy for condition (and for provenance -- see below). Mason pp 241-249. Housed in a morocco-backed slipcase with inner chemise. Provenance: bookplate of H. Bradley Martin on the case's chemise. To this day, the eight-part Bradley Martin sale of 1989-1990 remains the sale of a generation, especially for the remarkable condition of his collection (for this item see lot #3320). Item #15123