"A SUPREME NOVELIST IN AN AGE OF GREAT NOVELISTS": SPLENDID SET OF GEORGE ELIOT FIRST EDITIONS, INCLUDING ALL HER MAJOR WORKS, UNIFORMLY AND BEAUTIFULLY BOUND IN MOROCCO-GILT
ELIOT, George. Collection of 12 first editions. London: William Blackwood and Smith, Elder, 1858-84. Thirty volumes. Octavo, early 20th-century three-quarter blue morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. $16,000.
Beautiful set of Eliot first editions, comprising all of her major works, including the scarce Scenes of Clerical Life (1858), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871) and Mill on the Floss (1860), with a first edition of her husband's George Eliot's Life, beautifully bound in three-quarter morocco-gilt by Birdsall.
Eliot, who pioneered the method of psychological analysis characteristic of modern fiction, has been praised for the qualities that make her "a supreme novelist in an age of great novelists: her penetrating sympathy, her deep knowledge of humanity, her dramatic and descriptive power, her lambent humor, and the reflection of her extraordinary mind" (Kunitz & Haycraft, 212). This collection includes first editions of all of Eliot's major novels in addition to essays and poems: Scenes of Clerical Life, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Felix Holt, The Spanish Gypsy, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, The Legend of Jubal, Impressions of Theophrastus Such and Essays and Leaves from a Note-Book. Daniel Deronda is the earlier parts edition ("true" rather than the corrected "truth" in the motto at Volume I, page 336). All volumes bound without advertisements and errata, except Legend of Jubal, which contains the erratum. Romola extra-illustrated with the Frederic Leighton plates used in the serialized first publication. Shortly after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, San Francisco-based bookseller Paul Elder & Co. began holding exhibitions of rare books and manuscripts from the Birdsall bindery. The signed Birdsall binding indicates that this collection may well have been part of that effort. Baker & Ross A3-12. Sadlier 812-819. Wolff 2056-2063. Faint ink owner signatures on half title of Adam Bede and Daniel Deronda. Annotations in Romola. Tiny bookseller tickets.
Occasional stains and foxing mainly along marginal edges, Volume III of Felix Holt with two tiny corner bumps. An exceptionally lovely set.