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On the 10th of February, 1751, Gray received a letter from the editors of the ''Magazine of Magazines,'' asking permission to publish it.
to Horace Walpole, who circulated it among his friends.You can add notes or queries to any part of the poetic text by simply clicking on the line in question and filling in the annotations form with your details.All contributions will be submitted to the editor in the first instance for review.In the winter of 1749 Gray took it in hand again, at Cambridge, after the death of his aunt, Mary Antrobus. The poem was circulated in MS., and on the 10th of February 1751 Gray received a letter from the editor of the , asking leave to publish it. The text here given is that of the Edition of 1768, which appears to be authoritative and final.The poet refused, and wrote next day to Horace Walpole, directing him to bring it out in pamphlet form. Gray has appended the following bibliographical note to the Pembroke MS.: - ''Published in Febry. Roberts, & published in 1762, & again in the same year by Rob. A.'' Besides these legitimate editions, the poem was largely pirated; the of 1753. referred to in the notes are that which belonged to Wharton, and is now among the Egerton MSS.At any rate, 1742 is the traditional date; we know that it was finished at Stoke Poges, in June, 1750 (see p. It is not probable that Gray was steadily working at it all these years, even if he did begin it in 1742.
For interesting conjectures as to causes that inspired the poem, see Gosse, , pp. Gray was in no more haste to publish the poem than he had apparently been to complete it.
If Dodsley do not do this immediately, he may as well let it alone.''Walpole lost no time, and on the 16th of February the poem was published in a quarto pamphlet, the following being the content of the title-page: - ''An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard. - The poem was at once reproduced in the magazines; it appeared in the ''Magazine of Magazines'' on the 28th of February, in the ''London Magazine'' and in the ''Scots' Magazine,'' on the 31st of March, and in the ''Grand Magazine of Magazines'' on the 30th of April.
Gray has entered the following note in the margin of the Pembroke MS: - ''Publish'd in Febry.
14, 1773, that his account of the could have been concluded, in any sense, in 1742.
What evidence could Mason have adduced that it was even begun in this year?
1751, by Dodsley, & went thro' four editions, in two months; and afterwards a fifth, 6th, 7th, & 8th, 9th, 10th, & 11th; printed also in 1753 with Mr. there is a 2d edition; & again by Dodsley in his 'Miscellany,' vol. Roberts, & published in 1762, & again in the same year by Rob. A.''It first appeared with Gray's name in the ''Six Poems'' of 1753.