I wrote a few weeks ago about the books I’d owned the longest and had never read (you can read more on that here). Today, though, I thought I would share the oldest book I own, Poets of the Nineteenth Century, which was written in 1892 (so quite a while ago).
This version was given as a gift in 1894, and there is an inscription on the inside. It’s one of the things that made me buy the book, I just felt connected to it in a way I might not have with other used books I have picked up. It’s also one of the reasons that, whilst I’m not so much into poetry as I once was, I can’t bring myself to give it away.
You can blame my sentimentality on the fact that I bought this book when I was a young, impressionable, teen. I was learning about the romantic poets in school and this hit a chord. This also makes it the book I have owned the longest – it’s going on 35 years now.
I still have a photo of the day I bought it because we were on holiday and I immediately dived in and started reading it. I was going to share it here but the fashion disaster that I was just won’t let me – sorry!Reading it, I felt transported back in time. I could have been Lucy Lampert. Of course, I wasn’t – I could never write that neatly for a start – but it doesn’t hurt to dream.
And dream I did amongst the beautifully illustrated pages, lost in the words of Cowper, Mary Tighe, Anna Seward, Mitford, and Wordsworth as well as poets I wasn’t familiar with at all and are no longer big name draws.
It’s quite a way away from the type of books I read nowadays, with murder on every page. Perhaps, though, there were shades of things to come when you look at my favourite poem in the book, one I can still quote today…
Not the cheeriest of poems – some might even call it morbid, and definitely a clue to where my reading would take me.
What about you, what is the oldest book you own or the book you have owned the longest – have any of them got this beat in terms of age? or do any give a clue as to your future reading styles?
I have two books from 1921 that belonged to my mother, given to her by an aunt. They are battered, have been repaired, and are cherished. One was written by Johanna Spyri, the author of Heidi. The other is an unknown out-of-print author, Martha Finley.
The book by Spyri was Cornelli, which I actually found listed on a page of Spyri’s books, so I guess it wasn’t quite as unknown as I thought.
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So cool. I love Heidi…did you read them to your kids?
[…] Thursday, I wrote about The oldest book on my shelf – not only because of when it was written (1892) but when I bought it (1984). It […]
Lovely. My oldest book is either Gulliver’s Travels or an early English translation of Don Quixote. Both are from the early 1800s but neither have publication dates and I’m not an expert so can’t tell you more. Both I bought as a teen and have them now for about thirty years. It’s been a busy week with a cracked toilet, day camp, and paperwork for cross country. Come see what I’m reading
Wonderful books to own. Books obviously used to be built to last!