First edition, first impression of this remarkable anthology of Boer War protest poetry.
The poems in this collection first appeared in 'The New Age', a liberal and anti-colonialist British literary magazine. The poems served to strengthen the growing anti-war sentiment in Great Britain, as well as to expose to the outside world the atrocities committed by the British army on the civilian population.
Upon requests from the magazine's subscribers, the poems were published in a single edition titled "Songs of the Veld and other Poems". The publication was financed by subscriptions of the 304 readers listed in the book.
The South African writers' names were omitted to protect them against possible charges of subversion, rebellion and high treason under martial law. They include, amongst others, C. Louis Leipoldt (his first published poem, written as 'FWB', his known pseudonym at the time), Alice Greene (aunt of the famous author Graham Greene), Betty Molteno (sister of liberal politician James Molteno), Anna Purcell (niece of Reverend Abraham Faure), and Dr. F.C. Kolbe (co-founder of the Michaelis Art School at UCT, and author of the anthem of the University of the Cape of Good Hope).
Possibly not many more than the 304 copies for subscribers were published as the edition was banned in South Africa and viewed with great distaste by the anti-Boer imperialists. It can therefore be considered one of the scarcest Boer War items. It is exceedingly uncommon in the original wrappers.
The first reprint only appeared after more than a century. It was published in 2008 by Marthinus van Bart, a journalist for 'Die Burger'. It has a bilingual introduction which contains interesting information on the publication history, biographies of the known South African authors, and historical context. Van Bart located 2 copies of the first edition in the archives of UCT and Stellenbosch University (the latter used for the reprint) but could not find one in private collections.
This copy shows some general age-associated wear but still has its original stiff printed buff wrappers. The paper spine of this title tends to perish with use and over time, which seems to have been the case with this particular copy as it has been reinforced with a new cloth back.
Two copies of this book have sold on this site in the past. The hammer prices were quite remarkable.
- Binding Condition: Fair
- Overall Condition: Fair
- Size: 19 x 12.5 cm
- Sold By: Rare Paper
- Contact Person: Armandt Marais
- Country: South Africa
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