LOW FEN BILL HALL
HALL, William. The Chief of St. Athans; and Words to Welsh Melodies; with other Poems. London: Printed for W. Simpkin and R. Marshall … 1822.
  
8vo (225 × 141 mm), pp. [2], x, [2], 126, plus final blank; with an errata slip tipped in after the prelims; a little dusty, with a few small stains; still a good copy, uncut in the original drab boards, later rebacked with paper, a bit rubbed and marked; label of journalist and bibliographer Percival F. Hinton (1896–1977).
First and only edition. With a six-page list of subscribers, among them Washington Irving. The Oxford DNB entry for William Hall (1748–1825), who born into abject poverty on a small island in the Lincolnshire Fens, is quite splendid. His ancestors had been fen slodgers, and he himself worked as a gozzard, until his geese were swept away by floods, an auctioneer, and a cow-leech. After breaking his arm, he settled in King’s Lynn, where he ‘commenced business as a dealer in old books … “The Antiquarian Library”, as he called his shop, did fairly well’ despite his having to sell other things aside from books to keep afloat (ibid.). ‘Hall published a considerable number of strange rough rhymes, dealing with the fens, fen life, and the difficulties of his calling. Low-Fen-Bill Hall, as he sometimes styled himself, had a perception of his own faults, which he describes when mentioning John Taylor, the “water poet”, “who near two centuries ago wrote much such nonsense as I do”. But his verse is not without a certain Hudibrastic force, and it frequently contains graphic touches descriptive of modes of fen life now passed away’ (ibid.).
Jackson, p. 479. COPAC and WorldCat locate only three copies in the UK (BL, NLW, Bangor).
£300   
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