“BY WHAT AUTHORITY DARE YOU LAY HANDS ON A BRITISH GRENADIER!”: FIRST EDITION OF JAMES FENIMORE COOPER’S LIONEL LINCOLN, 1825
COOPER, James Fenimore. Lionel Lincoln; or, the Leaguer of Boston. New York: Charles Wiley, 1825. Two volumes. Small octavo, contemporary three-quarter tan calf, black morocco spine labels, marbled boards. $650.
First edition of Cooper’s fifth novel, the story of a Loyalist American, with an extremely accurate account of Battle of Bunker Hill.
“Playfully challenged by his wife’s cousin to write a better book than one he was reading aloud, Cooper, after a false start, produced [his first book] Precaution (1820), an imitation of an English novel of manners, which… brought him to the attention of the New York literary world” (ANB). Set during the American Revolution, Lionel Lincoln is the story of a Loyalist. “Cooper contended that from the brevity of American history derived its monotony, its familiarity, and (to a degree) its simplicity… What Cooper seems especially to have regretted— perhaps resented— about this country’s past was that it denied him access to the excesses and the ornaments of Medievalism. ‘Not withstanding that a murder is at all times a serious business,’ he observed in 1822, ‘it is much more interesting in a castle than in a cornfield” (Jeffrey Steinbrink). Nonetheless,“the thrilling scenes of a great political revolution, offered, indeed, all the necessary materials for interest in a work of fiction… [including] the wonderful siege of Boston, and the memorable battle of Bunker Hill… Every effort to preserve accuracy was made… Even almanacs, and records of the weather, were consulted, to insure greater accuracy in detail” (Susan Fenimore Cooper). Title page of Volume II dated 1824. Bound with half titles. Spiller & Blackburn A6. BAL 3832.
Text generally quite clean, with only occasional spots of foxing, contemporary calf with light expert restoration. A very desirable copy in a contemporary binding.