Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Does your Lordship never think of prose?"

Caroline Franklin has a fascinating piece at the TLS on the newly published letters of Byron's publisher John Murray to the poet:
Murray habitually used Byron as an anonymous reader, for example sending him novels of Maria Edgeworth and Frances Burney, and various poetry manuscripts. He also requested his opinion on the literary quality of all the latest publications: “Is there any thing but tinsel in Keates – Cornwall & Croly pray tell me”. Byron was sent parcels of books with tooth powder and corn plasters which he couldn’t obtain in Italy, and he forwarded relics from Waterloo, presents and poetry in return. Byron often recommended writers to the publisher, for example, James Hogg, when he had withdrawn The Queen’s Wake from Constable and Miller in 1814, and Coleridge’s “Christabel”, “Kubla Khan” and “The Pains of Sleep” in 1816. When Byron was a member of the Drury Lane subcommittee, he had recommended their melodrama The Magpie, which Murray published using a printer named Mr Dove.

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