I Promessi Sposi. Storia Milanese del Secolo XVII. [3 Vols; ROSSETTI family copy.]
SKU: 022588 Categories: Fiction, History, Italian, Literature Tags: Alessandro, Betrothed, Christina Rossetti, diaspora, Epic, History, I Promessi Sposi. Storia Milanese del Secolo XVII (3 Vols, Italian Literature, Italy, nineteenth century, novel, Rossetti Family copy) Manzoni, translation
Complete in 3 vols., 16mo., original cloth boards re-backed in matching cloth, pp. xv, 322 [+2 blank]; 345, [+2 blank]; 413; each volume with a hand-coloured copper-engraved frontispiece illustrating a scene from the narrative. Spines faded, abrasion to labels (esp. vols. 2 and 3) with some loss of text, pages slightly foxed, front pages of vol. 1 coming loose, hinges tender; otherwise good. One of the earliest editions of Manzoni’s classic of Italian literature (usually translated into English as “The Betrothed”), first having been published the previous year.
Each volume bears the signature of Frances Rossetti. Additionally, on the front endpaper of the first volume, there is an ownership inscription by William Michael Rossetti, brother of the poet (and a prominent writer and critic in his own right), denoting that the book was presented to him by Christina Rossetti: ‘W.M. Rossetti/from Christina/1887’. The hand of both can be proven by comparing them to surviving examples. As further proof of the volumes’ provenance we have a catalogue of the Rossetti Family Books compiled by the booksellers Bertram Rota*. The following is an excerpt from said catalogue: “Each volume bears the autograph signature of Frances Rossetti, and there is note in William Michael’s hand, “from Christina”, on the fly-leaf of the first volume. Throughout the text occur lightly pencilled marginal notes, mostly in Frances’ holograph, but with some by Christina. The frontispieces and title-page devices of each volume have been brightly coloured in a childish hand.” The books in the Rota catalogue were largely acquired from W. M. Rossetti’s granddaughter, Imogen Dennis; this was item no.32.
The date of the book’s publication and of William Michael’s inscription are of additional interest. 1828 was the year of the birth of the illustrious painter-poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti; it is thus plausible that this set was a present given to Frances by her husband Gabriele to honour the occasion. 1886, the year preceding the date of William Michael’s inscription, was the year of Frances’ death, so one explanation for William Michael’s inscription might be that Christina was placed in charge of the dispersal of her mother’s library and chose to bequeath this book to her brother. William Fredeman, an expert on the family Rossetti, has remarked on William Michael’s tendency of ‘regularly insert[ing] into his volumes signed annotations detailing the provenance, history or significance of a particular book’ (Fredeman). It therefore follows to assume that the inscription in the present volume is an example of this noted idiosyncrasy.