SCARCE AND EXCEPTIONAL FIRST EDITION OF THE GOLDEN LEGEND, INSCRIBED BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, WITH AN AUTOGRAPH SIGNED LETTER BY LONGFELLOW PRAISING AN ARTICLE ABOUT LOUISIANA'S BAYOU TECHE—THE REAL-LIFE AMERICAN HOME OF MANY ACADIANS LIKE THOSE IN LONGFELLOW'S POEM "EVANGELINE"
LONGFELLOW, Henry Wadsworth. The Golden Legend. Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1851. Octavo, original brown cloth. Housed in a custom cloth chemise and half morocco slipcase. $1500.
First edition, first printing, of Longfellow's dramatic poem, inscribed in the year of publication: "From the author 1851," with an accompanying autograph signed letter by Longfellow mounted on card thanking the recipient for sending an article on Bayou Teche, a river in Louisiana where the real-life Acadians who were the subject of Longfellow's famous epic poem "Evangeline" settled.
Based on a medieval German tale, The Golden Legend tells of a sick young German prince, cured by the devil and then saved by a maiden's willingness to sacrifice herself for his soul. First printing, with correct title page date and all other points. Published simultaneously with the London edition. BAL 12102. This book is accompanied by an autograph signed letter written entirely in Longfellow's hand, which reads: "Cambridge, Jan 2, 1881. Dear Sir, I have read with much interest and pleasure the article on 'Bayou Têche,' which you were kind enough to send me. Please accept my thanks, and my good wishes for the New Year. With great regard, Yours truly Henry W. Longfellow." Longfellow's 1847 epic poem "Evangeline" concerned the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia and the plight of his titular heroine, Evangeline. The poem was a sensation, beloved nationwide and a fixture on 19th-century school reading lists. While the poem's Evangeline did not make it to the South, many Acadians did and "Evangeline" sensitized the country to their struggle. The Acadians' resettlement along the Bayou Teche in Louisiana and Cajun culture became a topic of national interest, bolstered by a 1907 book called Acadian Reminiscences: The True Story of Evangeline (which obviously benefited from the Longfellow reference in its title). Today, there is a Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site—part of the Louisiana State Park system—at Bayou Teche, as well as numerous other Evangeline-related sites in the area.
Book extremely good, with occasional faint soiling to interior and light wear to cloth. Mounted autograph signed letter nearly fine.