Books: Delicate Piano

FRANCIS THOMPSON & WILFRID MEYNELL (212 pp.)—Viola Meynell—Dutton ($4.50).

In the London winter of 1887, a grubby manuscript fell into the mailbox of the monthly Merry England. Editor Wilfrid Meynell promptly pigeonholed it and did not look at it for six months. By then the author, a certain Francis Joseph Thompson, had disappeared. Letters addressed to him went unanswered. At last Meynell resorted to the oldest author-tracing trick of the trade: he printed one of the submitted poems, The Passion of Mary, and found his poet.

So began an editor-writer relationship which lasted until Poet Thompson's death almost 20 years later. It is...

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