London: Elkin Mathews, 1909. Small octavo, contemporary full purple crushed morocco gilt, raised bands, marbled endpapers, original blue paper wrappers bound in. Light rubbing to gilt, bumping to corners. Closed tear to gutter of half-title, text block toned. Item #100149
Second edition, "third thousand," of J.M. Synge's lyrical dialect plays. Inspired by the insular folklife of the Aran Islands, Synge wrote both of these one-act plays in 1902, and saw them performed at Dublin's Molesworth Hall in 1903 and 1904. The Shadow of the Glen was on the bill when the Abbey Theatre, founded by W.B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory with Synge's support, opened its doors in 1904: "I'm thinking it's myself will be wheezing that time with lying down under the Heavens when the night is cold; but you've a fine bit of talk, stranger, and it's with yourself I'll go." This copy has a wonderful history. In 1909, the year of its publication, it was presented by Chicago writer Floyd Dell and his wife Margery Currey to librarian Marilla Waite Freeman, who had encouraged the young Dell's first literary efforts, neatly inscribed with two lines from Synge's poem "A Wish": "Heavy riddles lie in this, / Sorrow's sauce for every kiss." Freeman had the little book rebound by Otto Zahn, a celebrated German art binder who had settled in the United States. In 1914, Yeats additionally inscribed this copy for Freeman during a visit to Chicago: "This was the second dialect play Synge wrote. The first was 'The Tinker Wedding.' W.B. Yeats, March 4, 1914." In 1916, Synge's friend and future poet laureate John Masefield added his own inscription: "I first met John Synge at Yeats's rooms one Monday evening in January, 1903. I heard the first public reading of these plays, when Lady Gregory read them, at the same rooms, a few weeks later. John Masefield, January 29, 1916." Decades later, on Christmas 1944, Marilla Freeman re-inscribed the book to her friend Nancy Morgan, in whose family it has remained. With an autograph note from Freeman to Morgan, outlining the sequence of events, laid in. A remarkable copy of two classics of the Irish stage, inscribed by Synge's friends and collaborators Yeats and Masefield.