Fifty Lyrical Ballads. By Thomas Haynes Bayly. Bath, Mary Mayler, 1829.
First Edition. 4to, (238 x 190 mm), pp. [iv], 80, entirely untrimmed, in the original drab boards, worn at extremities with spine delicate, most of the printed paper label still present, foxing to endleaves but the text generally very clean, inscribed on the title-page ‘Mrs D... (?) From the Author’.
A presentation copy of this attractively produced volume of songs printed by Mary Mayler, who ran one of Bath’s most successful bookshops, lending libraries and publishing houses. A note on the verso of the title-page states that the volume was privately printed: ‘These songs are all published with Music, but being the Property of various Persons, the Author has not the power of publishing them collectively. This Volume has therefore been printed for private circulation’.
Produced at the height of Bayly’s fame when his reputation as lyric poet and songwriter made him a popular feature at fashionable soirées in Bath, at one of which he met his future wife, Helena Beecher Hayes. This privately produced volume was evidently intended as a gracious compliment for favours received: this presentation copy is one of a number of presentation copies extant (unfortunately the inscription on the title-page is hard to read: Mrs Davison? Mrs Davinay?).
The volume includes many of his most famous songs, such as ‘I’d be a butterfly born in a bower’ (p. 28), composed on his wedding journey at Lord Ashdown’s villa near Southampton. The notes at the end of this work include a Latin version of that song composed by Francis Wrangham. 1829 also marked the year that Bayly moved to London and embarked on his theatrical career, one at which he enjoyed a fair success and which saw him through financially when the combined blow of loss of income from his Irish estates and the collapse of his coalmining investments hit him in 1831 and it became necessary for him to support his family by writing.