Lord Byron (1788-1824)
In 1812 Byron's 'Childe Harold's Pilgrimage' sold its run of 500 copies in three days. Byron wrote 'I awoke one morning and found myself famous. Larger edition of 3000 copies were printed and quickly sold out. Byron's publisher offer to pay him 1000 guineas for The Giaour and The Bride of Abydos. In 1814 The Corsair sold 10,000 copies on the first day of publication.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.
Felicia Dorothea Hemans (1793-1835)
Perhaps best known today for writing
THE stately Homes of England,
How beautiful they stand!
Amidst their tall ancestral trees,
O'er all the pleasant land!
These lines were famously parodied by Noël Coward:
The Stately Homes of England,
How beautiful they stand,
To prove the upper classes
Have still the upper hand.
Yet she was also celebrated in her own time as the author of 'Casabianca', which was first published in the New Monthly Magazine in 1826. The poem begins
The boy stood on the burning deck
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck
Shone round him o'er the dead.
The poem commemorated Giocante, the young son of commander Louis de Casabianca. Aboard the French ship Orient, during the Battle of the Nile (1798), the boy remained at his post and consequently died.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
On 12th November 1916 Beryl Wilson requested 30,000 copies of the poem 'If''. She wrote 'Working amongst the men as we have done, I realize what a tremendous influence for good the poem would have on them and how it would help them to endure the hardships of the trenches during the coming winter.'
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
Thomas Babbington Macaulay (1800-1859)
Over a 25 year period it has been estimated that an uncommercial poem called 'The Lays of Ancient Rome' sold 100,000 copies.
Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
His oriental romance, 'Lalla Rookh' (1817) fetched 3000 guineas in 1814. Lala-Rukh (Persian لالہ رخ), means "tulip cheeked"; it is an endearment frequently used in Persian poetry. Moore was a friend of Byron.
In that delightful Province of the Sun,
The first of Persian lands he shines upon.
Where all the loveliest children of his beam,
Flowerets and fruits, blush over every stream,
And, fairest of all streams, the MURGA roves
Walter Scott (1771-1832)
The Scottish romantic poet, novelist, and essayist found poetic fame with the publication of 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel.' The very expensive first edition of 2,000 copies sold out in under two months. His poem 'Marmion' (1808) had sold 31,000 copies by 1825. 'The Lady of the Lake' commanded a price of £2100. By 1830 it had sold 44,000. Yet most of his money disappeared quickly with the loss of his publishing venture.
Harp of the North! that mouldering long hast hung
On the witch-elm that shades Saint Fillan's spring
And down the fitful breeze thy numbers flung,
Till envious ivy did around thee cling,
Muffling with verdant ringlet every string,—
O Minstrel Harp, still must thine accents sleep?
Mid rustling leaves and fountains murmuring,
Still must thy sweeter sounds their silence keep,
Nor bid a warrior smile, nor teach a maid to weep?
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92)
In 1850, 'In Memoriam' sold 60,000 copies in a few months; in 1859 the 'Idylls of the King' sold 10,000 copies in a week. By 1892 annual sales of his collected works were 20,000.