John Gay — POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, 1st edition 1720 complete in fine binding

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POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS. By Mr. John Gay. FIRST EDITION 1720. Two Volumes Complete in One Fine Binding

London: printed for Jacob Tonson at Shakespear’s-Head in the Strand and Bernard Lintot between the Temple-Gates in Fleetstreet, 1720. Two volumes in one 4to bound in finemottled calf, spines gilt with red edges. pp. [x], 268; [iv], 269-546; with two plates in volume I (as additional title and opposite p. [67]) and one in volume II (opposite p. [427]), all designed by William Kent and many vignettes. Both titles printed in red and black. Only minor foxing and mainly to first and last pages. Very good clean copy bound finely with wide margins

First collected edition of Gay’s poetry, published by subscription to clear his debt: The book features three plates designed by William Kent. Gay’s venture was a success. The six-page list of subscribers, headed by the Prince and Princess of Wales, contains 364 names, mostly prominent figures from the court, high society, and political and artistic circles. His patrons the Earl of Burlington and the Duke of Chandos both subscribed for fifty copies, followed by William Pulteney, who took twenty-five: such multiple subscriptions were in effect a form of private subsidy, as aristocratic subscribers seldom took their full quota, and the copies not taken reverted to the author, who could sell them. The list also defines the world of Gay’s friends and acquaintances in the arts: included are John Arbuthnot, William Congreve, Elijah Fenton, George Frederick Handel, John James Heidegger, Godfrey Kneller, Matthew Prior, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Richardson, and Edward Young. John Gay (1685 – 1732) was an English poet and dramatist and best remembered for The Beggar’s Opera (1728), a ballad opera. The characters, including Captain Macheath and Polly Peachum, became household names. Later Bertolt Brech was inspired by Gay in his Opera “Die Dreigroschenoper”.

John Gay — POEMS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, 1st edition 1720 complete in fine binding