Saturday, 3 November 2012

Three-volume Works of Lord Byron, 1819, 1st edition thus?! (Keel Row Bookshop)

Some of my best decisions have been made spontaneously. Plans arranged on the spur of the moment can create the most wonderful stories, and it is with great excitement that I am able to share with you today's impulsive adventure.

We must travel to North Shields for this tale, where can be found the most beautifully quaint antiquarian book shop. I'd heard great things about The Keel Row Bookshop, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I proceeded through its front door. Rows and rows of books to my left, piles of volumes and editions to my right. This was just the entrance though. Located in an eight-room townhouse, each wall is  brimming with books. You can barely make out the delicious wooden floorboards beneath the piles of book that line the stairs and bookshelves. It's overwhelmingly mesmerising.

After I'd recovered from the initial shock from the grandeur, I was given a tour of the building (yes, it really is that big!), landing me right in the 'Penguin room', in which could be located Byron books a-plenty. Is was there that I was drawn to something delightfully jaw-dropping.

Could it be? Was I really holding in my hands a three-volume Works of Lord Byron, 1819, 1st edition thus? Goodness, I was. I absolutely was!

Of course, I am now the owner of said three-volume Works of Lord Byron, 1819, 1st edition thus! It was, as one might expect, published by John Murray, and printed by Thomas Davison, Whitefriars, five years before Byron's death. To be able to hold, nay, hug Byron's words as they were during his time on the Earth plane is something that causes the tears to cascade. I am in disbelief.

It's when I realised that they cost just £65 - yes, that's less than £25 per volume! - that I was left with nothing but love in my heart. The first volume contains Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and the notes to its cantos; in the second volume can be found The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, The Corsair, Lara, The Seige of Corinth, Parisina, The Prisoner of Chillon, Beppo, and their relating notes; the third and final volume contains Manfred, and the assortment of poems from Hebrew Melodies (which includes my personal favourite 'She Walks in Beauty').

Setting this particular set apart from the others printed at the same time are the labels on the inner left pages of the volumes. This shows the origins of the set before it made its way to Keel Row bookshop, travelling from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham, to North Shields. Upon purchasing the volumes. I was actually given a brief anecdote of the books' past, which is a wonderful insight.

I didn't feel too bad for not buying all of the Byron books, as I knew I'd be visiting the shop again at some point in the near future, but I couldn't help but purchase an additional two books: Byron by Frederic Raphael (1982, Cornwall, Volatic Limited), £3.50, and The Chandos Classics: The Poetical Works of Lord Byron (1???, London, Frederic Warne and Co. Ltd) £8, the latter of which containing over 700 pages of Byronic goodness.

I'm absolutely over the  moon. To think that I am the owner of three volumes of Byron poems that were in existence during his lifetime. I can't quite get my head around it! A huge thank you goes out to the fabulous gentlemen at The Keel Row Bookshop for their assistance. Of course, I ended up flashing ankle to the shop (no, this is not me practising the art of nineteenth-century seduction, but rather flaunting my Byron tattoo!), in the spirit of all that is the Romantics. I will most certainly be visiting the shop again very soon, but for now, I have some delicious books to dance around...

Amy x