"WITH LOVE FROM THE DESIGNER OF THE JACKET": EXCEPTIONAL PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION COPY OF VIRGINIA WOOLF'S THE COMMON READER, INSCRIBED BY VANESSA BELL TO HER CLOSEST FRIEND, MARGERY SNOWDON
(BELL, Vanessa) WOOLF, Virginia. The Common Reader. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1925. Octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $12,500.
First American edition of Virginia Woolf's popular and influential collection of essays, inscribed by Woolf's sister Vanessa Bell, who designed the dust jacket, to her closest friend Margery Snowdon in the month following publication: "Margery with love from the designer of the jacket, June 1925."
The Common Reader was conceived as a collection of informal essays designed to introduce good literature to members of the wider public or, to use the label she borrowed from Samuel Johnson, the "common readers." When the first Common Reader was published in 1925 in an edition of only 1250 copies, The Observer praised it, noting that "few books can show a deeper enjoyment, a wider range, or a finer critical intelligence." In fact, it was so successful that "in refashioning the informal, critical essay to her own unique perspective, [Woolf] had taught a new generation how to read, how to become uncommon readers" (Willis 114). Includes Woolf's essays on Jane Austen, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad, modern fiction, modern essays, "The Russian Point of View," "On Not Knowing Greek," and many others.
Vanessa Bell, Virginia's older sister by four years, of course famously designed all the dust jackets for her sister's Hogarth Press publications (Harcourt, Brace used her design for this New York edition as well). "Beginning with her jacket for Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room (1922), the first pictorial Hogarth Press dust jacket, to her design for Virginia's posthumous Between the Acts (1941), Vanessa designed 20 dust jackets, sketched the first wolf's-head device, and supplied seven designs for the various Hogarth Press series and editions… Unquestionably Vanessa's designs added an important visual quality to all of Virginia's work" (Willis, Leonard and Virginia Woolf as Publishers, 381-82). Recipient Margery Snowdon, affectionately known as "Snow," studied painting at the Royal Academy Schools with Vanessa and became her closest friend for many years. Snowdon was also friends with Virginia: "In the ironic preface to Orlando, Virginia Woolf acknowledges 'Miss M.K. Snowden's [sic] indefatigable researches in the archives of Harrogate and Cheltenham'" (Mark Hussey). Kirkpatrick A8b.
Light foxing to first few leaves and fore-edge, cloth clean and fine; original dust jacket with chip to foot of toned spine, early tape repairs to verso of bright front panel, very good. A splendid association copy.