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Title: A Selection of Poems.
Description: Redruth: Printed by Boblyn and Tayler, Fore Street. 1889. FIRST AND ONLY EDITION. 8vo, 181 x 101 mms., pp. [vi], 96, original wrappers, cased in recent publisher's buckram, preserving wrappers (foxed and stained); wrappers soiled. This mysterious book appears to have been written by William Henry Harris (1873-1933) during his Cornish youth. He signed his preface when at "Whitfield, Illogan" in 1889. Illogan is a very small village in Cornwall. In adulthood, Harris spent many years in Michigan in the United States, where for some time he was a Methodist pastor in Byron, a village close to Detroit. An obituary in the Michigan Christian Advocate states that the "Rev. William Henry Harris was born at Whitfield, near Redruth, Cornwall, England, on March 28, 1873. He received his education in the public schools of Cornwall and was a correspondent student of Oxford University. For several years he was a supply preacher in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, then going to South Africa, he served as a missionary for three years; returning to England he took up the work of the ministry in the church in Cornwall" (Michigan Christian Advocate, Vol. 60, No. 33, August 17, 1933, p. 10). The Advocate goes on to say that he was "married to Edith Mitchell, of Illogan, a childhood friend and church worker, in 1902". Since Illogan is a village two miles north of Redruth in Cornwall, and Whitfield is similarly near Redruth, it seems the future husband and wife lived in geographical proximity early in their lives. The inscription in this copy presumably connects to the family of the poet's wife, as the giver is a Mitchell: "To / William Wearne / from / William James Mitchell / 1890". The obituary in the Advocate adds that Harris's "book of war poetry brought to him very special commendations from far and near; and his sermons published in the Brooklyn Eagle and Expositor were the source of a great deal of satisfaction". I have not traced this book of war poems, though it likely dates to much later, as presumably WWI was meant. As a nineteenth-century poet, Harris is entirely unrecorded by Catherine W. Reilly, as both this book, Selection of Poems (1889), and his name are nowhere found in the two standard bibliographies compiled by her: Mid-Victorian Poetry, 1860-1879: An Annotated Biobibliography (2000) and Late Victorian Poetry, 1880-1899: An Annotated Biobibliography (1994). Harris's Selection of Poems (1889) is not only of interest to Methodists and scholars of Methodism. There is, for instance, Cornish topographical poetry, e.g. "Grand Old Carn Brea Hill" (pp. 8-9), and there is other verse connected with Cornish interests, shipwrecks being a predominant theme in the history of that county, as so many met their doom on the rocky coasts of Cornwall. For "Loss of the Emigrant Ship Kapunda", see pp. 4-7. Not least is "England and the Whitechapel Murders" (pp. 26-28), a lengthy (72-line) poem about the most famous serial killer in history: Jack the Ripper. The printing firm responsible for the book, Hoblyn and Tayler, of Fore Street, Redruth, Cornwall, is not recorded by the British Book Trade Index. This book itself is not in WorldCat, COPAC, KVK, NUC, British Library, or Library of Congress.

Keywords: poetry provincial imprint literature

Price: GBP 385.00 = appr. US$ 549.77 Seller: John Price Antiquarian Books
- Book number: 9443

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