HAZLITT, William (1778-1830). Lectures on the English Comic Writers [and] Lectures on the English Poets. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859.

Melville’s copy, annotated and with his ownership inscription. "As Melville sought to expand his repertoire as a lecturer, he read Hazlitt's works thoroughly. His copy of this book is extensively annotated, espcially Hazlitt's comments on poetry" (Reese). As with the Works of Abraham Cowely in the previous lot, the present work was purchased in March 1862 during Melville's time in New York City during the Civil War. His buying and reading during this period reflect his pivotal move toward poetry: The Confidence-Man, published several years prior in 1857, was to be his final novel and the balance of work published in his lifetime would be verse, beginning with Battle-Pieces in 1866, the work that led him to abandon writing and take up a post at the Customs House.

There are annotations on approximately 137 pages in total; 118 pages are mainly pencil scores, checkmarks, underlinings, and other added emphasis marks, and 19 pages have at least one word, for a total of about 311 words. On the leaf facing the title page is his inscription: “H. Melville 1862 Ma[r]ch N.Y.” The present copy is the third edition. Sealts 263b.

Octavo, two volumes in one. Original cloth (rebacked, with about half of original spine laid down). Custom chemise and quarter morocco slipcase. Provenance: Sotheby’s New York, 27 June 1989, lot 67.

Exhibited: "A Herman Melville Collection ... on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death, from the collection of William S. Reese," Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, 1991, no. 31.
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