Queens of Song
Signed by Dr Fordyce Barker to American soprano Clara Louise Kellogg
Assumed first US edition. Hardback, in a half-leather binding with gilt titling and five raised bands to the spine. Marbled paper covered boards and marbled edges (faint). 20.5 × 14cm, 543pp.
This copy was given to American soprano Clara Louise Kellogg in December 1964. The inscription reads "Miss Kellogg from Fordyce Barker, Xmas 1864". Kellogg (1842–1916) was the first US-born prima donna, and in the early 1860s was making her name as Marguerite in the New York premiere of Charles Gounod's Faust. Dr Fordyce Barker (1818–1891) was a well-known New York physician who was at the Bellevue Hospitals in New York in the 1860s.
Full title: Queens of Song: Being Memoirs of Some of the Most Celebrated Female Vocalists who have Performed on the Lyric Stage from the Earliest Days of Opera to the Present Time, to which is added a Chronological List of all Operas that have been Performed in Europe.
First published in England in 1863, this is a study of female opera singers from the early eighteenth century to the (then) present day, including Katherine Tofts and Magarita de L'Epine, Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni, Elizabeth Billington, Rosamunda Pisaroni, Henrietta Sontag, Jenny Lind Goldschmidt and many more. The book is illustrated with ten portraits and ends with a chronological list of operas.
The leather and boards are rubbed to all edges, with some surface abrasion to the marbled boards. The marbling to the page edges is faint. The inner binding is secure, the prelims have light foxing and tanning and the main body of text is in good order. There is some inoffensive pencil annotation in the book (marginalia and at the end of some chapters) which I believe to be later than the inscription but not modern.