AE Housman’s A Shropshire Lad was first published in 1896, but seen here is a much later, 1920 edition with coloured illustrations by William Hyde that was sold by Halls at £500. The fine binding was made in in 1924 at the Marygold Bindery in Cambridge established by Rosemund Philpott.

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Sold for £2700 by Halls (20/12% buyer’s premium) on August 21 was a volume that brought together in one contemporary calf binding an 1830 first of Tennyson’s Poems, Chiefly Lyrical and his Sonnets and Fugitive Pieces.

The latter, published in Cambridge in the same year, was inscribed “J M Gaskell from his affectionate friend A H Hallam”.

A fellow poet, Hallam was also a close friend to Tennyson, and the subject of the latter’s In Memoriam of 1849. Hallam had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and died in Vienna in 1833.

Containing a tipped-in letter from Tennyson, a large paper first in original drab boards of Poems by Two Brothers (1827), a youthful collection in which Alfred’s work was accompanied by that of his brother Charles, was bid to £1200.

Owen first


Wilfred Owen Poems - £3600 at Halls' auction.

The most expensive of these poetical lots, however, was a 1920 first in dust jacket of Wilfred Owen’s Poems that attracted a great deal of interest and eventually realised £3600.

Only one copy would appear to have made more at auction, one that Siegfried Sassoon inscribed for EM Forster. Part of Anthony’s Hobson’s fine library, that copy sold for £4200 at Christie’s South Kensington in 2015.

Soul trading

Sold for a record £750 in Shrewsbury was a copy in original buff wrappers of William H Davies’ first publication, The Soul’s Destroyer and Other Poems of 1905. Davies later wrote that after failing in attempts to sell the book door to door he destroyed most of the copies.

In the original coloured boards, the two volumes of The Annual Anthology edited by Robert Southey for publication in Bristol in the years 1799-1800 sold at £900.

These volumes are famous for the 17 poems and epigrams by Coleridge that it contains but, as usual, the first volume lacked pp31-32. That cancelled leaf featured a ‘War Poem’ that was deleted because it was seen as showing a lack of patriotism.

What this copy did lack, however, was a few pages from the prefatory leaves, but though that obviously influenced the price, the buyer was still very pleased to acquire it, I am told.

Only a couple of copies have made more and one of them, a copy with a long and distinguished provenance that was last seen at Christie’s in 2004 as part of the Van der Poel library, reached £8000. That set contained Coleridge’s autograph corrections to two of the poems.