"ONE OF THE FIRST AND MOST INFLUENTIAL OF ENGLISH NOVELS": 1749 FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE OF FIELDING'S TOM JONES IN CONTEMPORARY CALF-GILT
FIELDING, Henry. The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling. London: Printed for A. Millar, 1749. Six volumes. 12mo, contemporary full brown calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, red and green morocco spine labels. Housed in a custom slipcase. $15,000.
First edition, first issue of Fielding's mock-heroic "milestone in the development of the English novel" (An English Library, 21), one of a first printing of only 2000 copies, a lovely and desirable copy in contemporary calf-gilt.
"The book is generally regarded as Fielding's greatest, and as one of the first and most influential of English novels" (Drabble, 988). The thoroughly entertaining story of how Tom, a kind-hearted, high-spirited young man, woos the morally exemplary Sophia and wins recognition from society is "one of the best-plotted novels in English… A wealth of highly diversified episode is fitted together by the hand of a master craftsman into a perfectly organized whole" (Baugh et al., 957-58). Prepublication demand for Tom Jones was so great that London booksellers immediately snapped up the first printing of 2000 copies; a second printing was completed before the official date of publication, February 28. First issue, with errata uncorrected in text, errata leaf bound in Volume I after contents. The second printing was issued with the errors corrected, and therefore required no errata leaf. Other first-issue points: B9, B10 of Volume I are cancels; B4, B5 of Volume II are cancels; H8, H9, H10, M3 and Q11 of Volume III are cancels; N8 of Volume V is a cancel; B5 of Volume VI unsigned. Cross III:316-17. Rothschild 850. Grolier 100. Rosenbach 57:32. Lowndes, 797. Allibone, 593.
Repair to title page of Volume I, text generally quite clean; a touch of rubbing to extremities with joints professionally refurbished. A lovely, quite desirable set of this beloved classic in contemporary calf-gilt.