The Royal and Noble manuscript collections of 'People's Poet' Edgar Guest

Edgar Guest was born in Birmingham, England, on August 20, 1881, to Edwin and Julia Wayne Guest, but the family moved to Detroit, Michigan, in 1891.

When Edwin lost his job in 1893, Edgar began working odd jobs after school. In 1895 he was hired as a copy boy for the Detroit Free Press, where he would work for the rest of his life: 65 years.

Edwin died when the younger Guest was just 17, and he was forced to drop out of high school and work full time at the newspaper. He worked his way up from a copy boy to a job in the news department. His first poem appeared on December 11, 1898.

Guest's uniformly positive poems were very popular; he was officially made Poet Laureate of Michigan and unofficially known as the People's Poet.

"He wiped his shoes before the door
"But paused to do a little more.
"He dusted off the stains of strife
"The mud that's incident to life
"The blemishes of careless thought
"The traces of the fight he'd fought
"The selfish humors and the mean
"And when he entered he was clean."

Extract from At The Door by Edward Guest

He wrote 11,000 poems which were syndicated in 300 newspapers and collected in more than 20 books.

But Guest was an earnest collector of writings in his own right.

Edgar Guest manuscript collection
Edgar Guest's manuscript collection
(Click to enlarge)

His primary focus was on the history of his native England. This became clear when three bound books, dating from the 16th to 18th century were listed at Dumouchelle's upcoming auction this week.

The collection, which seems rather modestly estimated at $7,000-10,000, comprises 114 items written and/or signed by kings, alongside, nobles, pretenders to the throne ('James III', for example) and other historical figures.

Some of the highlights include: a signed, handwritten letter by Charles II with a watermark and a signed, handwritten letter by James I of England (also known as James VI of Scotland).

Charles I letter
Letter signed by Charles I
(Click to enlarge)

There is also a signed handwritten document with watermark by Robert Catesby (Instigator of The Gunpowder Plot) & his father Sir William Catesby along with other signatures and an autographed letter, signed by Protestant martyr Hugh Latimer with a watermark (but no date).

There is even a Prince Rupert signed, hand written letter (one page folio, which includes a watermark) with a signature/endorsement by the diarist Samuel Pepys, dating to May 29, 1672.

Representing a true collector's fascination, and the unique view which collectibles can give into history, the collection will be sold on February 11-13 in Guest's homestate of Michigan.


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