This edition came about through the efforts of DGR's admirer Francis Heuffer, who wrote the introduction to the volume and
served as DGR's intermediary with the Tauchnitz firm. The contract for the edition was completed in June 1873,
and DGR was involved with the proofing on and off
for the next few months, and into November (see Fredeman,
Correspondence, 73. 173, 233, 259, and 338)
). The edition is important in that it allowed DGR to introduce
some revisions into the texts of his poems.
DGR's letter to Hueffer of ca.15 November 1873 includes a long list of annotated comments and revisions to Hueffer's introductory “Memoir” (see Fredeman, Correspondence, 73. 233
). The comments and revisions are not only extensive, they contain valuable information about DGR's view of his own work in relation to the work of contemporaries who were close to him, like Morris and Swinburne.
The afterlife (so to speak) of the edition is especially interesting and important. DGR received six gratis copies, and
two of these carry extensive revisions to various texts. One of these
copies he eventually gave to William Sharp. The other is a set of pages torn from a copy of the book that DGR used as the core copy text for the printing of his 1881
Poems. A New Edition. The latter document is
not quite complete, and a few of its missing pages are
preserved in the Princeton University library.
One other interesting copy, in a private collection, is signed and presented to Swinburne and dated
1879 on the half-title page (which has the bookplate of A. Edward Newton). This copy has an intact paper cover, which is not commonly preserved. Also, its end cover prints a list of the “Latest Volumes” in the Tauchnitz editions series and carries the date of May 1878.