Saturday 25 June 2016

The Canadian Naturalist

Published in 1840, this was Gosse’s first published work.

Written whilst Gosse was farming in Compton, just south of Sherbrooke, in the Estrie region of Quebec.

This was loyalist country, just twenty miles north of the American border. From the slopes of Montjoye you could look south across the lake to the distant hills of Vermont.

This book was a slow seller from the start.  There was only one edition (ignoring recent facsimiles) and this appeared in a variety of bindings, of which Freeman and Wertheimer identified three.

My book is numbered 1c in Freeman and Wertheimer, with a cloth case of dark green vertical rib.

Gosse’s original watercolour ‘View of P. H. Gosse’s farm at Compton L.C., Dec. 29th 1837’, reproduced with slight modifications as the frontispiece, is now in the Public Archives of Canada.

Most of the wood engravings were drawn by Gosse himself.

The printer’s address was an error. It should have read Shoe Lane, not Soe Lane.

I purchased this book from Wheldon and Wesley, the famous specialist natural history book sellers, then based in Hitchin, Herts.

Philip Henry Gosse's farm, Compton, 1837
© National archives of Canada / Watercolor from P.H. Gosse / C-84444
© John Dunn.

Monday 13 June 2016

A Bibliography of the First Editions of Philip Henry Gosse, F.R.S.

This is the privately printed book that was superseded by the Freeman and Wertheimer bibliography.

I love this book for the love and care with which it was researched, prepared and crafted by Peter Stageman. It is the pioneering work of an enthusiast. This is the cloth-backed edition, of which 450 copies were available to purchase.

Sacheverell Sitwell, who wrote one of the introductory essays to Stageman’s bilbliography, thought of Gosse more as an artist than a natural historian.

“...we are dealing with someone who, we hope it not cruel to say, took to his religion as de Quincey or Baudelaire clung to opium, and remained lifelong slave to his obsession. That pair of names is mentioned by way of implied compliment because I am so certain that Edmund Gosse was right in saying that his father should be looked upon, primarily, more as an artist than as a man of science.”

The book.

Peter Stageman, A Bibliography of the First Editions of Philip Henry Gosse, F.R.S. with introductory essays by Sacheverell Sitwell and Geoffrey Lapage, The Golden Head Press, Ltd., Cambridge, 1955. Edition limited to 429 copies in cloth originally at 2 guineas.

  Hand coloured frontispiece

© John Dunn.

Tuesday 7 June 2016

P. H. Gosse: A Bibliography

I stumbled across the son of the father first, i.e. Edmund, back in the early eighties on one of many sorties from my office in Leeds to Mr Miles’ Antiquarian Bookshop, near the Merrion Centre on Woodhouse Lane.

Naturally I soon became inquisitive about the father, Philip Henry, or P. H. as he was normally named on the books. It was early into the new interest that I acquired the great bibliography of P. H. Gosse’s works by Richard Broke Freeman and Douglas Wertheimer. This I ordered through the branch of Austick’s Bookshops on Cookridge Street in Leeds.

It was with this erudite work of scholarship in hand that my collecting interest in P. H. Gosse began.

And it was the photograph, in that same bibliography, of the P. H. Gosse collection in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at Toronto University that tempted me into my purchases. I later discovered that the core of the Toronto material was the collection of R. B. Freeman, the bibliographer himself.

The book.

R. B. Freeman and Douglas Wertheimer, P. H. Gosse: A Bibliography, Folkstone, Dawson, 1980.

© John Dunn.