The essay, as a literary form, resembles the lyric, in so far as it is moulded by some central mood––whimsical, serious, or satirical. Give the mood, and the essay, from the first sentence to the last, grows around it as the cocoon grows around the silkworm. The essay–writer is a chartered libertine and a law unto himself. A quick ear and eye, an ability to discern the infinite suggestiveness of common things, a brooding meditative spirit, are all that the essayist requires to start business with.
Alexander Smith, "On the Writing of Essays."
Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country, 1863
Last month I took you on a virtual tour of my Poetry Collection. This month I will take you on a virtual tour of my Collection of Essays. I will present images of book covers and title pages, and even a link or two to essays you can view online. For brevity's sake, I will omit the posting of publication information. You can, however, view the catalog listings of all my essay books on Library Thing.
For years, I craved for the entire forty-five volume set of The British Essayists. But by the time I found a set in decent shape and at a reasonable price, I no longer wanted it. I was more than happy with reading my motley collection of essays.
Contains essays by Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, John Webster, George Chapman, Edmund Bolten, Henry Peacham, Michael Drayton, Henry Reynolds, Sir William Alexander, Sir John Suckling, and John Milton (end Vol I); Sir William Davenant, Thomas Hobbes, Abraham Cowley, Richard Flecknoe, Sir Robert Howard, Thomas Sprat, Thomas Shadwell, Thomas Rymer, Edward Phillips, Joseph Glanvill, Samuel Butler, Earl of Rochester, Earl of Mulgrave, and the Earl of Roscommon (end Vol II); Robert Wolseley, Sir William Temple, Gerard Langraine, John Dennis, Charles Gibson, William Wotten, Sir Richard Blackmore, William Congreve, Jeremy Collier, and George Granville (end Vol III).
The Tatler and The Guardian complete in one volume
Little did I know when I first picked it up off the top of a bookcase in an antique store in a village near RAF Mildenhall, England, and started reading it almost twenty-nine years ago, that this book, an odd volume of the 1806 edition of The Works of Samuel Johnson, would become the cornerstone of not only my Samuel Johnson Collection, but my Essay Collection as well.
Several weeks later, at a book fair in Long Melford, I bought a 1776 edition of The Rambler.
And then more SJ essay books. . .
And finally, about ten years ago, I acquired Johnson's Works from Mike Slicker at his Lighthouse Books in St. Petersburg, Fl.
Men, Women, and Books; A Selection of Sketches, Essays, and Critical Memoirs From His Uncollected Prose Writings by Leigh Hunt (1st Amer. & 1st Eng. Eds.)
Four of the five books were published by Chapman & Hall, and the other in a similar binding design by Chatto & Windus (On the Choice of Books). The Chapman & Hall books have title pages dated from 1831 to 1850, but they contain publisher inserts listing books first published in the 1870s. The Chatto & Windus book is dated 1878.
Acquired while I was on a Philosophy kick. The complete title is Essays on the Principles of Morality, and of the Private and Political Rights and Obligations of Mankind by Jonathan Dymond.
Dreamthorp: A Book of Essays Written in the Country. First published in 1863. You can read these essays on google books. My favorites are "A Shelf in My Book Case" and "On the Writing of Essays."
I wrote about Will H. Low's copy of Across the Plains and Other Memories and Essays, also by RLS, in my January 2013 blog post, "Memories of Things Experienced and Things Missed."
In Feb 2013, I wrote about the provenance history of another book written by Augustine Birrell. Click on the title below to view my post.
First American Edition of Trivia. No. 82 of 100 copies printed by Doubleday, Page and Company. Signed by the author.
I have a manuscript copy of a short piece (click to view) Logan Pearsall Smith wrote which appeared in More Trivia and then in All Trivia.
The English Essayists: A Comprehensive Selection From the Works of the Great Essayists, From Lord Bacon to John Ruskin, With Introduction, Biographical Notices, and Critical Notes compiled and arranged by Robert Cochrane. Prize Binding Awarded 1913
If this is "a book of English Essays," then why is one of the 41 essays written by Edgar Allen Poe, and another written by James Russell Lowell?
Sixteen essays by fifteen American essayists (Lowell wrote two essays).
The second edition of a college text book that went through five editions.
No. 653 of Everyman's Library. One hundred English essays from Caxton to Belloc.
A most interesting book about six different types of essays and the essayists who wrote them. You can read it here on Google Books.
And this concludes the virtual tour of my Essay Collection. For brevity purposes, I have omitted the display of scholarly essays about Samuel Johnson and William Shakespeare. I have omitted the display of more than a few anecdotal essays in my Books About Books Collection. And I have omitted the display of essays written by living authors. You can, however, view the listings of all my books on Library Thing.