(London: Printed for A. Strahan; T. Cadell; and W. Creech, 1787). 212 x 126 mm. (8 1/2 x 5"). xlviii, -372 pp. With half title and the subscriber list [to the Edinburgh edition]. Third Edition; First London Edition, First State (with "stinking" instead of "skinking" in "To a Haggis").
Pleasing contemporary tree calf, smooth spine rebacked preserving most of original backstrip (small restoration at head), this divided into panels with gilt floral centerpiece by gilt chain roll, red morocco label (corners neatly restored). In a fine modern brown buckram chemise and matching mottled calf-backed slipcase. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Burns. Front pastedown with engraved armorial bookplate of Edward Goulburn. Gibson, p. 6; Egerer 2. Mild offsetting from turn-ins' glue, occasional minor foxing or trivial marginal stains, but an excellent copy, clean and fresh internally, the expertly restored binding unworn.
This is the first London printing (following an Edinburgh edition the same year and the extremely rare Kilmarnock first edition of 1786) of one of the most famous poetic publications in history. Burns issued the poems at the age of 27 in order to raise passage money for a voyage to Jamaica, where he had been offered an agricultural post on a plantation. At a time when his contemporaries were searching for the "natural bard" and, in the process, had unearthed poetical threshers, poetical milk maidens, and poetical cobblers, the charming plowman Burns delivered his simple and beautiful lyrics with most propitious timing. He found himself famous almost at once, and his fame has not faltered over time, even though, after the appearance of the present work, he did little during the rest of his life except write songs and drink. (ST16366a)
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PJP Catalog: 78.132