Author: John Donne
Publisher: London, Nonesuch Press, 1932
Third impression (revised; first impression 1929), inscribed by Peggy Ashcroft, in pencil in a tiny hand, to Laurence Olivier, "Larry from Peggy"; pencil markings in the contents pages against "The Extasie", "On His Mistris", "Loves Progress", "To his Mistris going to Bed", and, in the text, in "The Extasie: (p.39), "To his Mistris going to Bed" (p.97).
Marked in pencil in the text are the lines "Loves mysteries in soules doe grow, / But yet the body is his booke" and "To teach thee, I am naked first; why then / What needst thou have more covering than a man".
From the library of Vivien Leigh, Olivier's co-star in the film Fire over England (1937) and his wife from 1940 to 1960. Bought from the family upon the sale of Manor Farm House in Lower Zeals
At Olivier's memorial service in Westminster Abbey in 1989, Sir John Gielgud recited John Donne's sonnet "Death Be Not Proud" (pp.283-4), while Dame Peggy Ashcroft read from John Milton's "Lycidas".
Peggy Ashcroft and Laurence Olivier started at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art in the same term, in 1924 (Ashcroft remembered him as "rather uncouth" but "intensely lively and great fun"), and worked together in the Birmingham Rep., 1926-8. Pivotal in Olivier's career was John Gielgud's production of Romeo and Juliet staged at the New Theatre in 1935: Gielgud and Olivier alternated the roles of Romeo and Mercutio, and Ashcroft was their Juliet.
8vo., Covers a little faded at spine, free endpapers slightly embrowned otherwise a very good copy with a fascinating theatrical provenance.