Autograph letter signed, 2pp, n.d. To her brother.

(KEATS, JOHN) (ROSSETTI, DANTE G.) WELLS, EMILY

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Autograph letter signed ("Emily"), 2pp, 8vo (blue graph paper), 90 Louis[?] Bonaparte 10, n.d. To her brother, enclosing a letter (no longer present) ". . . from your friend the poet Dante Rossetti who has been so good as to send Charles a book of his poems, which amiable attention on his part is I assure you appreciated by him, though he has completely renounced for himself all thoughts of authorship with its allusions and disappointments. . . . [H]e is much touched by your friend's kind thoughts of him for he imagines that he is dead to everyone in England especially in a literary way. . . ." Wells also mentions "another well-wishing friend," the engraver [William James] Linton, "who asked you for our address as he wished to send him a book of his poems . . ." With a strip of cellophane tape (now browned) along edge of verso, covering post script (which is still legible); folds weak and lightened; in good condition despite the defects noted.

Emily Wells was married to Charles Jeremiah Wells (1800-79), an English poet who was educated at Cowden Clarke's school in Edmonton with Tom Keats, the younger brother of the poet, John Keats. Wells was the friend to whom Keats refers in his 1816 sonnet "To the Friend Who Sent Me Some Roses" ("When, O Wells! thy roses came to me . . ."). Wells lost favor in the literary community and received harsh admonishment from Keats, after he played a cruel practical joke on the dying Tom Keats, by sending fabricated love letters from a fictitious admirer named "Amena." In a letter to George and Georgiana Keats (14 February 1819), John Keats writes: " . . . The instigations to this diabolical scheme were vanity, and the love of intrigue. It was no thoughtless hoax -- but a cruel deception on a sanguine Tempermament, with every show of friendship. I do not think death would be too bad for the villain . . . I consider it my duty to be prudently revengeful . . . He is a rat and he shall have ratsbane to his vanity . . . ." (see The Letters of John Keats edited by Maurice Buxton Forman, pp.325-6). Wells self-exiled to France, never to return to England again. In 1823, under the pseudonym, H.L. Howard, Wells published his epic poem, "Joseph and His Brethren." William Hazlitt, who saw Wells every night between 1824 and 1827, refused to review the drama and dissuaded Wells from any more writing. Wells and Hazlitt were soon after estranged. It wasn't until 1863, when Dante Gabriel Rossetti read and vehemently praised the poem, that Wells received any critical acclaim from the literary community. In 1875, A.C. Swinburne wrote an eloquent study of "Joseph and His Brethren" for the Fortnightly Review and the drama was reissued in 1876. (Item ID: 18693)


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