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Nevill Coghill's Copies, Inscribed to Him and with Letters

A Collection of Books by C.H.O. Scaife, from the Library of Nevill Coghill

V.p.: V.p., V.d.

C.[hristopher] H.[enry] O.[ldham] Scaife [1900-1988] was a contemporary of Coghill's at Oxford, and remained a lifelong friend. Professor of English in Cairo and at the American University of Beirut, educational advisor to the Iraq government after the Second World War, Scaife published many volumes of verse over the course of a long and productive life, sending many of them to Coghill, often affectionately inscribed. This collection of books from Coghill's library comprises:

i) The Poetry of Alfred Tennyson: An Essay in Appreciation [London: Corben-Sanderson, 1930]. First edition. Author's compliments slip laid in, uninscribed.

ii) Towards Corinth, O Englishman [London: Corben-Sanderson, 1934]. First edition, Coghill's dated [1934] ownership inscription to front free endpaper;

iii) Morning, Noon and Night [Beirut: Published by the author at the American Press, 1955]. First edition, inscribed: 'My dear Nevill, beloved of poets, from Kit. 29.viii.61'.

iv) In the Levant [Beirut: N.p., 1958]. First edition, inscribed: 'Nevill with love from Kit. 1.ix.58.' The dedication copy, with handwritten correction on p.5 ('gaol' for 'goal'), presumably in Scaife's hand (see below). With 2pp. ALS dated 1.ix.58 from Scaife to Coghill on American University of Beirut notepaper: 'My dearest Nevill, Here is my latest of slimmest volumes, with my love. Since you had taken pleasure in the verses already I thought I might dedicate 'em to you without asking permission. I do hope that a closer acquaintance won't lead you to resent the liberty!...'. The letter goes on to apologise at length for the book's typo, rail against the Times Literary Supplement, and look forward to a reunion in Ireland.

v)Tones and Overtones: Selected Poems 1926-1976 [London: N.p., 1976]. First edition, no. 3 of 400 signed copies. Publisher's slip laid in. With 2pp. ALS, dated 7.vii.78 and sent from London, from Scaife to Coghill, regretting not being able to visit before leaving the country: 'Nevertheless you are always like a nightingale in my heart's thicket.' Also laid in is a 2pp. ALS from Coghill to his daughter Carol. Dated 6 Feb. 1975, among travel advice and news about new household staff, Coghill talk's of the work he's currently engaged in, including:

' essay about an old and intimate friend Christopher Scaife, who has suddenly lost the sight in both eyes (slipped retinae), and who, at 74 has suddenly started writing major poetry. He has written minor poetry of considerable charm and touchingness, but all of a sudden he has leapt an octave -- so to speak -- into another class altogether; there is an elegy on a neighbour friend -- an Italian farmer -- which Milton might envy but not have written -- it is free of all that baroque classical decoration that keeps him (Milton) at a distance from his subject in Lycidas. But Kit Scaife's Aurelio seems to me of Homeric quality. He has also written another strange poem called Chumley which to me is more impressive than anything contemporary I have come across for a long time. So writing this Introduction to a publication of his "collected" works is now occupying me, and I find it inexplicable that he should suddenly have written work of such power after so many slighter things. And as he is alive still and blind, it is very hard to avoid an obituary note! He is a year younger than me.'

vi) More Poems for the Speaking Voice [Florence: N.p., 1983]. First edition, no. 118 of 250 copies signed by the author. No other inscriptions.

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