London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey, Fleet Street; and E. Drury, Stamford, 1821. First edition, Carter’s variant binding ‘A’, complete with half-titles and four pages of publisher’s advertisements at the back of the second volume. Carter, Binding Variants, p. 104. 2000 copies printed. “The Village Minstrel reveals Clare as a far more versatile and accomplished writer than had been apparent from his first book. The main body of the first volume is dominated by the title poem, Clare’s first attempt at a sustained autobiographical meditation in verse. It is followed by a miscellany of poems, with songs and ballads interspersed among descriptive and reflective pieces in which Clare describes himself walking or sitting alone in the countryside, watching and recording the processes of nature. The second volume contains the sonnets in which Clare’s miniaturist art begins to mature as well as a glossary Taylor compiled from information provided by the author.” Jonathan Bate, John Clare: A Biography (NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), pp. 223-231. Spines, particularly joints, of both volumes rubbed (small stain on the spine panel of Vol. II), top and bottom fore-tips of the first volume and bottom fore-tips of the second bumped, offset to first couple leaves from tipped-in newsprint in Vol. I, but in general an unusually nice set, and rare in original boards. Booklabel of J. O. Edwards on front pastedown of both volumes. 2 volumes, small 8vo, frontispiece portrait by E. Scriven after a portrait by W. Hilton in Vol. I, original boards with paper spine labels.