“SVENGALI WAS A DEMON, A MAGICIAN! I USED TO THINK HIM A GOD!”: HANDSOMELY BOUND SET OF GEORGE DU MAURIER’S NOVELS
DU MAURIER, George. Trilby. WITH: Peter Ibbetson. WITH: The Martian. London and New York: James R. Osgood, McIlvaine and Harper & Brothers, 1892-98. Three volumes total. Square 12mo, mid-20th century three-quarter blue calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, red and burgundy morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. $950.
George du Maurier’s three novels—early English edition of Peter Ibbetson, first English one-volume edition of Trilby and first edition of The Martian—with numerous illustrations by the author, uniformly and handsomely bound by Frost.
Already famous as an artist for Punch, du Maurier in 1891, “after discussing his chances with his loyal friend Henry James, accepted a proposal to write a story for Messrs. Harper, the well-known firm of American publishers. The result was Peter Ibbetson, partly based upon recollections of his own early life, blended with a plot turning on a fantastic theory of the sympathetic relationship of dreams… The ample illustrations by the writer, in his most attractive style, contributed greatly to [the book’s] success, which was sufficient to induce the publishers to commission a second story, to be published in monthly installments in the pages of Harper’s. The first chapters of Trilby appeared in January 1894.” Trilby is best remembered for the sinister hypnotist Svengali. The novel would be filmed many times, most notably in 1931 as Svengali, starring John Barrymore. Some readers regard it as a key influence on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel, Le Fantome de l’Opera. “It was inevitable, after the immense popularity of Trilby, that liberal offers should be again made to du Maurier for a successor to it… [And so he] completed the whole text of The Martian, together with a portion of the illustrations, the first installment of which, in Harper’s, appeared a few days after his death” in 1896 (DNB). It tells the story “of a sensitive but mysterious Spiritualist who turns out to have been a Martian all her life” (Clute & Nicholls, 357). Early English edition of Peter Ibbetson (the first English edition published in two volumes in 1892; see Sadleir 1674a, Wolff 1950). First English one-volume edition of Trilby (Wolff 1952c). First edition of The Martian (Sadleir 1673; Wolff 1949). An English Library, 19. Barron, Fantasy and Horror 3-36, 3-37.