"I WAS EXCEPTIONALLY BUSY… BRINGING FORTH MY LAST LITERARY BAUTLING"
AINSWORTH, William Harrison. Stanley Brereton. London: George Routledge and Sons, (1881). Three volumes. Octavo, contemporary burgundy morocco rebacked with elaborately gilt-decorated spines laid down, raised bands, top edges gilt. $1800.
First book edition of Ainsworth's final novel, with two signed autograph letters by Ainsworth tipped in at the front of Volume I planning future meetings with friends and mentioning a literary endeavor, handsomely bound.
"When we became reconciled to Mr. Ainsworth writing a modern novel, we soon found that his band had not lost its cunning ; that under his guidance the Englishman of to-day is as daring… as his ancestors under Tudor or Stuart. The plot of Stanley Brereton, which is developed in three closely-printed volumes, does not readily lend itself to brief exposition, and this will be a merit in the eyes of many readers, who delight in story largely relieved by vigorous incident. To such, Mr. Ainsworth's last work will be grateful; while to those who owe him many hours of the keen enjoyment of youth, it will be welcome" (contemporary review, The Spectator). This volume also includes two autograph signed notes by Ainsworth, tipped in at the front of Volume I. Written entirely in Ainsworth's hand, they read as follows: "My dear Miss Pitcher, As I do not return tomorrow, I cannot have the pleasure of calling upon you as I had intended; but when —- return is quite certain. I will write to you and fix the Saturday on which I will call, as I shall be very glad to see you. The young ladies are quite well. Sincerely Yrs. W. Harrison Ainsworth. Conservative Club. Dec 17th 1849"; and "My dear Sir, I owe you a thousand apologies for my apparent inattention to your note. It reached me at a time when I was exceptionally busy in the agonies of bringing forth my last literary bautling, and got laid aside. I shall be here after eleven on each morning in this week till Friday. But suppose I name Thursday at 12 – of —— day and hour will suit you. Your's Faithfully. W. Harrison Ainsworth. 1. Saint Martin's Place. Trafalgar Square. Sunday. October Twenty Four 1832[?]." The "literary bautling" mentioned in the second letter was likely The Lancashire Witches, serialized in 1848 and published by Coburn in 1849. Widely regarded as Ainsworth's best work, it is the only one to have been continuously in print since publication. Originally serialized in The Bolton Weekly Journal. Not in Sadleir (who notes the rarity of late Ainsworth titles). Wolff 74. CBEL III:913. Bookplates of John Louis and Elizabeth Ketterlinus. According to the Library Company of Philadelphia, John Ketterlinus was heir to and proprietor of Ketterlinus Printing house, later Ketterlinus Lithographic Manufacturing Company, the premier Philadelphia printing and lithography establishment, active from 1852 until the 1970s. The firm, which began in color cards and label work, bolstered its already strong reputation by printing trade cards for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. The proceeds from that endeavor allowed it to acquire the latest printing technology and expand its premises far beyond its original workshop. By the time Ketterlinus retired, the printing company was involved in everything from Congressional documents to perfume labels and had become a Philadelphia institution.
Only light rubbing to edges of letters, foxing to frontispiece portrait, text quite nice. A handsome copy.