First edition, first printing. Inscribed presentation copy, with loosely laid in corrected typescript of the poem, 'Bristol'. Original red pebbled cloth with white paper label lettered in black to the upper left corner of the front panel, in dustwrapper. A very good copy, the binding tight and square, the contents clean and without inscriptions or stamps. The cloth is a little mottled. Pasted to the rear free endpaper is a cutting from the 'New Statesman' (18 January 1947) with the first appearance of the poem, 'Indoor Games near Newbury' (later included in 'Selected Poems' (1948)). Complete with the slightly fragile (at the folds) but intact dustwrapper, which is lightly rubbed and soiled, and nicked and worn along the top edge. There are a couple of tears to the folds either side of the front panel, with an associated diagonal patch of loss (1.5 cm x 1 cm). Not price-clipped (6s. net to the front flap). A scarce signed copy of the poet's fourth volume of poems.
Inscribed in black ink to the front free endpaper, "Eve / with love from / John B / Christmas 1945". The dedicatee is likely to be the English artist, Eve Disher (1894-1991), who was, according to the poet's daughter, Candida Lycett Green, the "girlfriend of JB's Marlborough chum Arthur Elton" ('Letters', Vol. 1, p. 466). The poet's papers, held at the University of Victoria, include twelve letters from Disher to Betjeman (dated between 1944 and 1970). Loosely laid in to this volume is a folded typescript of the poem, 'Bristol' (the finished poem is on pp. 11-12). The poem was first published in 'Horizon' (11, February 1945) under the title 'A Plain Course on the Bells'. This typescript version is untitled and headed by the change-ringing diagram (the 'Plain Course' of the first title as well as the final line of the poem), which is printed at the end of the poem in the book. Typed at the foot of the poem, underlined, is 'Bristol, October', which appears to be a record of when and where the poem was written (the poem is, not surprisingly, set in Bristol). There is a holograph correction to line 10 ('into' written in black ink above the crossed-out 'over'; the corrected version is printed in the book) which appears to be in the poet's hand, suggesting that this may be an original typescript of the poem, preceding the addition of either of the titles it was later given. The volume was published on the 19th December 1945; there were 2120 copies of the first impression. (Peterson A13).
Stock code: 19564
London: John Murray