"LOVE IS FREE": SHELLEY'S QUEEN MAB, FIRST PUBLISHED EDITION, WITH THE RARE DEDICATION TO HARRIET PRESENT
SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe. Queen Mab. London: W. Clark, 1821. Octavo, contemporary full calf gilt rebacked with original spine expertly laid down, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. $4000.
First published edition of Shelley's first major poetic work, with the rare usually-absent dedication to his first wife, Harriet. A beautiful copy.
Queen Mab, privately printed in 1813, "remained unknown until [this] piratical reproduction of it in 1821 (which Shelley vainly tried to suppress by an injunction) excited attention" (DNB XVIII:33). The dedication to his former wife was particularly embarrassing to Shelley since his marriage to Harriet ended in 1814 and she committed suicide in 1816. “In some copies the Dedication, upon the omission of which Shelley congratulated himself, is inserted either after the title page or at the end of the notes… Some copies contain the whole text and notes intact, while others have a few of the most aggressive passages mutilated by omission of words and even verses… but I have not the slightest doubt about the two kinds of copy having been printed from the same type at the same period” (Forman 22). In this copy, "To Harriet*****" is bound at the end of the notes. The publisher, Clark, was sentenced to four months in prison for publishing this edition (Rosenbach 25:222). Bound without ad leaf. With bookplate and contemporary owner's signatures, one dated in the year of publication.
A beautiful copy.