Title: Phoenixiana, or Sketches and Burlesques
Author: Phoenix, John
Publication date: New York, 1856
Library: University of Iowa Main Library
Call number: PS1535.D53 P5 1856
Submitted by: Matthew Blackwell
Though he is largely forgotten today, George Horatio Derby (1823-1861) was one of the most popular American humorists of the nineteenth century. He published under several different pseudonyms, but he was most well known for his writings as John Phoenix, which were collected in Phoenixiana, or Sketches and Burlesques. This collection went through at least 11 editions in its first year (1856) and 25 total by 1890. It was read by such notables as William Makepeace Thackeray, General Ulysses S. Grant, and President Theodore Roosevelt (source: Dictionary of Literary Biography).
This 1856 copy of Phoenixiana features multiple inscriptions in at least two handwritings. An ownership inscription on the flyleaf reads “H.D.D.” On the recto of the frontispiece page there is an apparently anachronistic gift inscription that then reads, “To Peter A Dey, Esq. / from his friend / H.D. Downey, / Iowa City / Feb. 22, 1848.” Below this, in pencil, a note reads “See John Phoenix’ [?] / on its ‘central [?]’” Finally, a second ownership inscription on the title page reads “Peter A. Dey / 1858.”