Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1895. Keith, William. First Edition. Hardcover. First printing, duodecimo size, 169 pp., inscribed by Ina Coolbrith. Near fine. Item #23010202
Ina Donna Coolbrith (1842-1928) lived a life rather unusual for a woman of her days. She moved with her family at the age of 7 years from Illinois to California, in 1868 Bret Harte engaged her as one of his co-editors of the "Overland Monthly", she was an influence on Cincinnatus Heine Miller, to whom she recommended the pseudonym "Joaquin Miller", was the first Poet Laureate of California, and mentored other young writers including Jack London. In order to support her family she worked for the Oakland Public Library and the San Francisco Mercantile Library, as well as serving as the librarian for the Bohemian Club. She was writing a history/memoir of San Francisco when the manuscript was destroyed by the fire following the earthquake of 1906; she eventually settled with her niece in Berkeley where a portrait of her was taken by Ansel Adams, dying on Leap Day, 1928. After her death it was disclosed to the public that she was the niece of Latter Day Saint movement founder Joseph Smith, Jr.
This copy inscribed by Coolbrith on the front free endpaper: "Mrs. Clara B. Colby / With compliments / of the author". This likely Clara Bewick Colby (1846-1916) who was heavily involved in suffragette causes, serving as President of the Nebraska Woman Suffrage Association from 1885 to 1898, among many other associations. It is not surprising that Coolbrith would have known Colby, as their sympathies would have completely aligned.
This anthology of poems by California's first state Poet Laureate is number twenty-one on the Zamorano 80 list and and contains four illustrations by noted California artist William Keith (1838-1911), a long-time friend of John Muir.
___DESCRIPTION: Red cloth boards with a narrow gilt ruled border, vignette of a lyre and gilt lettering on the front, gilt lettering on the spine, top edge gilt, author inscription on the front free endpaper as referred to above, tissue-guarded frontispiece being a half-tone reproduction of one of Keith's illustrations, the other three interspersed throughout the text; duodecimo size (7 1/8" by 4 3/4"), pagination: (i)-x, (1)-159.
___CONDITION: Near fine, the boards clean other than a few light, stray marks, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the gilt top edge bright and undimmed, the interior clean and bright, and the sole prior owner marking we see a tasteful Ex-Libris on the front pastedown; the text block slightly cocked, the bottom edges of the boards lighter in colour with a very small, old damp-stain visible on the bottom fore-edge of the back pastedown, some toning to the endpapers, the front free endpaper and flyleaf with faint evidence of a paper clip having been used at some point by a prior owner. Even with its few faults still a near fine copy of the first edition, inscribed by Coolbrith to Clara B. Colby.
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