William Wordsworth's First Editions


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An Evening Walk, 1793. London: J. Johnson.


Descriptive Sketches. In verse, 1793. London: J. Johnson.


Lyrical Ballads, 1798, 1800, 1802, 1805. Facsimiles of all the editions, with transcripts and notes, edited by Ronald Tetreault and Bruce Graver.


Poems, in Two Volumes, 2 volumes, 1807. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme. Vol. I. Vol. II. In this edition WW uses a rudimentary classification system for the poems based on their subject matter.


The Excursion, Being a Portion The Recluse, A Poem, 1814. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown.


Poems, 2 volumes, 1815. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. "Including Lyrical Ballads, and the miscellaneous pieces of the author. With additional poems, a new preface, and a supplementary essay." This is a new edition of the 1807 Poems, using an innovative system of classification, and giving dates to poems. WW wanted to break away from the idea of chronological progression in the presentation of his poems. He had outlined the basic scheme for this to Coleridge in 1809; it consisted of categories equating to periods of human life. In 1812 he expounded his theory to Henry Crabb Robinson, which was more complex and psychological by that time. There was also a second, incompatible classification, based on fancy, imagination, reflection, or mere feeling (Barker, 333).


The White Doe of Rylstone; or the fate of the Nortons. A poem, 1815. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. Printed by James Ballantyne, Edinburgh.


Thanksgiving Ode, 1816. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. A slim volume of new poems and odes after Napoleon's defeat.


Peter Bell, a Tale in Verse, 1819. London: Printed by Strahan and Spottiswoode, for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown. A parody of Peter Bell by J.H. Reynolds (a friend of Keats) actually beat Wordsworth's poem into print, but its publication turned out to benefit WW's sales (Barker).


The Waggoner, a Poem, 1819. London: Printed by Strahan and Spottiswoode, for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown.


The Excursion, Being a Portion The Recluse, A Poem, 1820. Second edition. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown.


The River Duddon, a Series of Sonnets: Vaudracour and Julia: and Other Poems to which is Annexed A Topographical Description of the Country of the Lakes, in the north of England. 1820. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown. The topigraphical description was originally written to accompany plates depicting the Lake District engraved by Joseph Wilkinson.


The Miscellaneous Poems, 4 volumes, 1820. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown. Volume 1. In this edition WW revised and re-issued all his published work; it was a severe re-writing, partly based on criticisms by Coleridge (Barker, 369).


Memorials of a Tour of the Continent, 1822. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown. Poems originally written to be interspersed with Dorothy Wordsworth's journal of the trip.


Ecclesiastical Sketches, 1822. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown. Sonnets on the history of the Church of England, written in reaction to the relaxing of the Catholic exclusion laws.


The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, 1826. Longmans, 5 volumes. A new edition that also included new poems written over the previous 4-6 years. It is this edition that the Parisian publisher Galignani pirated and sold cheaply in a one volume version. Galignani's edition sold very well in France, America, and even England. WW realized that the public had an appetite for low-priced books of poetry, but when he asked Longman's to publish his next edition as a cheap one they weren't interested, believing that "purchasers of poetry were of the class who do not regard price." As a result, WW contacted Edward Moxon, who had formerly worked at Longmans but left to set up his own publishing business, about printing a cheap edition (Barker, 414).


Selections from the Poems of William Wordsworth, Esq., chiefly for the use of Schools and Young Persons, 1831. London: Edward Moxon. Previously WW had rejected the idea of issuing a selected edition, but was persuaded to issue one now after sitting in on a class taught by Joseph Hine, a schoolteacher in Brixton, and hearing Hine's pupils talk about his poetry. WW corrected the proof sheets to this edition but left the arrangement of the poetry to Hine.


Poetical Works, 1832. Longmans. A new, cheaper edition of the poetry, which was compressed from 5 volumes to 4 by printing the lines closer together. It sold for almost half the price of the previous edition. Contained no new poems, which would be saved for a later book for financial reasons (Barker).


Yarrow Revisited, and Other Poems, 1835. London: Printed for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, Paternoster Row; and Edward Moxon, Dover Street.

A book of new poems. The title was chosen for its popular and commercial appeal, invoking Wordsworth's earlier, highly-praised Yarrow poems. Yarrow Revisited was very successful, and a second edition was printed in 1836, when Wordsworth revised some of the poems. The copy shown here is the first (1835) edition.


The Excursion, 1836. London: Edward Moxon. A new edition. A new printing in a cheaper, double column format.


Poetical Works, 1837. London: Edward Moxon. WW enlisted Edward Quillinan to help him arrange and prepare this 6-volume edition, then revised the poems.


The Sonnets of William Wordsworth, 1838. London: Edward Moxon. This publication speaks for the high value Wordsworth attached to the sonnet. He also wrote an advertisement for it that alluded to Milton as the father of the sonnet.


Poems, Chiefly of Early and Late Years; including The Borderers, A Tragedy, 1842. London: Edward Moxon. WW's last book of new poetry, gathered from all unpublished work he had on hand.


A Complete Guide to the Lakes, 1842. First Edition. Kendal: Hudson and Nicholson; London: Longman and Co., and Whittaker and Co.; Liverpool: Webb, Castle St.; Manchester: Simms and Co.

A Complete Guide to the Lakes, 1843. Second Edition. Kendal: Published by J. Hudson; London: Longman and Co., and Whittaker and Co.; Liverpool: Webb, Castle St.; Manchester: Simms and Co.


The Poems of William Wordsworth, 1845. A New Edition. London: Edward Moxon, Dover Street. MDCCCXLV.

This was a complete poems, issued in one volume. Although one more edition of Wordsworth's poems would appear before he died, this was the last edition of his poetry that Wordsworth would revise thoroughly and personally see through the press. Following the example of the American edition issued by Henry Reed in 1837, Wordsworth greatly expanded the number of poems under the heading "Imagination." Some changes to older poems are "Christianizations," showing the influence during this period of Frederick William Faber on Wordsworth (Barker, 500).


The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, in Six Volumes, 1849. London: Edward Moxon. The last edition of Wordsworth's poetry issued in his lifetime. Volume Seven was The Prelude.



Posthumous Editions and Other Noteworthy Editions

The Prelude, 1850. London: Edward Moxon. Held back from publication until now to provide income for his family after his death. The first American edition, New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1850.


The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, in Six Volumes, 1857. London: Edward Moxon. The "new edition" issued by Wordsworth's chosen publisher, Edward Moxon, which incorporated excerpts from the Fenwick Notes as headnotes to the poems. Volume IV.


The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1861. Publishers Nelson, Routledge, Gall and Inglis, and Nimmo set the standard for the beautiful, illustrated, one-volume editions of Wordsworth issued by competing publishers as the copyrights to older works expired (Gill 81-98). 1871 edition from Nelson.


A Selection From the Works of William Wordsworth, 1865. London: Edward Moxon & Co. Selected and arranged by Francis Turner Palgrave, this handsome book was Moxon's attempt to compete with other sumptuous editions of Wordsworth that began to appear as the copyrights expired.


The Poems of Wordsworth, 1879. London: MacMillan, Matthew Arnold, editor. The influential edition of Wordsworth's poems selected by Matthew Arnold. 1898 edition.


From The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. VIII, 1896. London: MacMillan, William Angus Knight, editor. The first major scholar to edit Wordsworth's works. At the end of volume 8, Knight provides a list of Wordsworth's editions.


Works Cited

Barker, Juliet. Wordsworth: A Life. Harper Collins, 2005.
Gill, Stephen. Wordsworth and the Victorians. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998.


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