“SOMEONE HAS BEEN AT MY PORRIDGE!”: SOUTHEY’S THE DOCTOR, 1834, WITH THE FIRST PRINT APPEARANCE OF “THE THREE BEARS”
(SOUTHEY, Robert). The Doctor, &c. London: Longman et al., 1834-38. Five volumes. Octavo, original green cloth, original paper spine labels, uncut. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $4500.
First edition of Southey’s anonymous miscellany The Doctor, best known for containing the first appearance in print of “The Three Bears.” “Any text of the story published before 1850 is a rare and desirable possession” (Quayle, 39).
The Doctor was the last major work by this English poet laureate. Southey’s “prose style has long been regarded as masterly in its ease and clarity. These qualities are best seen in… the anonymously published seven-volume The Doctor (1834-47), a fantastic, rambling miscellany packed with comments, quotations, and anecdotes” (Kuiper, 1055). “The Three Bears,” based on a traditional tale, appears in Volume IV on pages 318-26; this version has a “Little Old Woman” instead of Goldilocks. Goldilocks would not appear as such until 1904; in a 1858 version, she is called “Silver-Locks” (Carpenter & Pritchard, 524). Different typefaces and type sizes are used in Southey’s version to indicate different characters: for example, Papa Bear’s dialogue is printed in large Gothic type. Volumes I through V of The Doctor appeared during Southey’s lifetime; Volumes VI and VII (not included here), edited by his son-in-law, were published in 1847, four years after Southey’s death (Lowndes, 2460). Volume IV with 16-page publisher’s catalogue dated June 1837. Without front free endpapers in Volumes I-III and V. Bookplates.
Interior quite clean; mild wear to original cloth extremities, some chipping and wear to paper spine labels. Extremely good condition. Scarce.