Academic journal article The Byron Journal

Letter to the Editor

Academic journal article The Byron Journal

Letter to the Editor

Article excerpt

Dear Editor,

I own Manuscript B (the William K. Bixby copy) of Lord Byron's poem to Tom Moore, 'My Boat is on the Shore' (see overleaf). Originally thought by Bixby to be in Byron's hand, it is clearly in an unknown hand by an unidentified copyist.

Its location was unknown for many years after the 1934 New York sale of Bixby's literary manuscripts. About 20 years ago, it was auctioned on Long Island, presented as Byron's original manuscript, but was returned by the purchaser as inauthentic. The auctioneer then spent years trying to find the consignor, who had vanished.

I bought the manuscript a year ago on eBay after the auctioneer had apparently given up trying to get his money back.

Byron sent the poem from Venice in a letter to Moore of 10 July 1817, and that autograph apparently no longer exists. According to McGann, the Bixby MS is one of three contemporary copies - all by unknown copyists.

The MS is one folio leaf of laid paper, 8 by 12 ¼ inches, watermarked 'J WHATMAN TURKEY MILL'. The handwriting is distinctive and odd. The cursive lines start rather small and become larger line by line - as if the copyist is forcing the use of more space on the page. …

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