MRS. PIOZZI’S FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT OF DR. JOHNSON, FIRST EDITION OF ANECDOTES OF THE LATE SAMUEL JOHNSON, 1786
(JOHNSON, Samuel) PIOZZI, Hester Lynch. Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson During the Last Twenty Years of His Life. London: T. Cadell, 1786. Small octavo, contemporary speckled brown calf rebacked, later russet morocco spine label. $1500.
First edition of Piozzi’s famous first-hand account of her long association with Samuel Johnson, scarce in contemporary boards.
Hester Thrale (later Piozzi) first met Dr. Johnson in 1765, and he became a frequent houseguest, with Mrs. Thrale nursing him through his illnesses. They were very close, but after her husband’s death, Mrs. Thrale’s relationship with Johnson became strained as “Johnson’s roughness and demands upon her time became intolerable.” She married Piozzi, an Italian musician, in 1784, and when Johnson learned of it he “replied in a letter of unjustifiable fury, to which she made a dignified reply. He admitted that he had exceeded his right, thanked her for her kindness, and took leave with sad forebodings. She states that she replied affectionately; but they never again met” (DNB). Johnson died shortly thereafter, and Piozzi published this celebrated personal account of their relationship, which features first printings of 24 bits of verse by Johnson, along with numerous anecdotes, observations and conversations. With scarce Postscript leaf; bound without the half title and errata slip found in some copies. With cancel leaf K2 as usual, which suppressed a passage critical of Boswell. Lowndes, 1872. Armorial bookplate of William John Campion Esquire, of Danny Park in Sussex, England: “descended from Sir Simon Campion, of Campions Hall, Essex, whose descendents settled at Combwell, Kent, in the early part of the 17th century and became the owners of Danny by marriage” (Gentleman’s Magazine Vol. XLIII:313).
Text very fresh, small open tear to one leaf minimally affecting text (T4), lightest rubbing to boards. A handsome extremely good copy.