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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

William Barnes, A Catalogue and Partial Bibliography, Maggs Bros

Maggs Bros Ltd 47-page catalogue (pdf)

"Collecting Barnes has never been easy; of his early text books several have vanished without trace, and one is represented by a single detached title in the Dorset County Museum. His first book of poetry Poetical pieces 1820, is known only from a copy in the same institution. The present collection, the best remaining in private hands, is the life-time achievement of the scholarly bookseller, James Stevens-Cox, FSA, 1910–97. He was educated at Bristol Grammar School, where he came under the influence of a remarkable headmaster, John Barton. Thanks to him, Stevens-Cox read Hardy and this quickly led to Barnes. His enthusiasm deepened when in 1953 he moved his bookshop to Beaminster.

The present catalogue is not the full bibliography that Barnes merits, but it describes many binding variants for the first time, and attempts to solve at least one intractable bibliographical problem (see item 25). Even the apparent duplicates have much to tell about the reception of Barnes; the early books almost all Dorset owned, the later more widely spread. Barnes still awaits his bibliographer; likewise an editor for a variorum edition of the verse (it has only recently been realised that Barnes made substantial alterations between editions). These tasks would certainly be made easier if one had the contents of the present catalogue to hand. 

The catalogue is arranged in 8 sections, of which the first is Barnes’ works arranged in alphabetical order by title. The first entry for each title includes a collation, together with such information about publication as we could glean from The Publishers’ Circular and its summary and index: The English Catalogue of Books (ECB). The sequence after the first entry of a title is roughly chronological i.e. remainder bindings should be at the end".

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