"ELIHU ROOT U.S. SECRETARY FOR WAR FROM HIS OLD FRIEND BRAM STOKER": PRE-PUBLICATION PRESENTATION COPY OF MYSTERY OF THE SEA, WARMLY INSCRIBED A WEEK BEFORE THE BOOK'S FORMAL PUBLICATION BY BRAM STOKER TO HIS CLOSE FRIEND, TEDDY ROOSEVELT'S SECRETARY OF WAR, ELIHU ROOT
STOKER, Bram. Mystery of the Sea. New York, Doubleday, Page, 1902. Octavo, original black- and gilt-stamped olive cloth. $8500.
First edition, pre-publication presentation copy, of this combined political thriller and gothic novel by the acclaimed author of Dracula, warmly inscribed to Stoker's longtime friend, Elihu Root, a lawyer and former U.S. Senator from New York serving as Secretary of War for President Theodore Roosevelt: "Elihu Root, U.S. Secretary for War, from his old friend Bram Stoker 22.3.02."
While author Bram Stoker is best known for his gothic classic, Dracula (1897), Mystery of the Sea contains many of the same elements such as the supernatural, anxiety over foreigners, and a fascination with femininity and the Victorian woman. Mystery of the Sea also draws on Stoker's life experiences including his visits to Cruden, Scotland; his fascination with America; and his preoccupations with science and the supernatural. Scholar Lisa Hopkins noted its genrelessness, deeming it "part love story, part political tract, part treasure quest and part tale of the supernatural." "The mystery of the sea to which Mr. Bram Stoker compels our attention is one which no reader will put aside undiscovered. The story is not saturated with the weird horror that held us in Dracula, but it has enough of the supernatural for due glamour and thrill… [A]n uncommonly spirited and entertaining book" (contemporary review, New York Tribune). This American first edition precedes the first London Heinemann edition by several months. Dalby 13(a). This copy is inscribed to Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elihu Root, a prominent lawyer and statesman who served as Secretary of War under Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William McKinley. Stoker, who spent much of his career working as a personal assistant to famous English stage actor Sir Henry Irving and writing on the side, met President Roosevelt and Root several times in Washington D.C. while Irving was touring the United States. Roosevelt had met Irving in London some years earlier and recalled him as having been "civil to [him]" (Wise, 220). So, in 1894, almost a decade before this book was inscribed, Roosevelt held a party with over two dozen friends, including Elihu Root, at his New York mansion and both Irving and Stoker "a prince of good fellows" attended after Irving's play (Wise, 220). The long-lasting friendship of Roosevelt, Root, Irving, and Stoker stemmed from that long night (until 5 a.m.) of drinking and other entertainment. While Irving and Stoker eventually left when the hot water gave out, the friendship with those they had met did not. Stoker became one of the famous novelists of his age and Root went on to fight for world peace, becoming founding Chairman of the Council for Foreign Relations, the first president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, co-founder of the American Law Institute, and co-creator of the Hague Academy of International Law in the Netherlands, also winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on international unity. The two remained in correspondence throughout their lives.
Interior fine, usual mild toning to spine, original cloth generally clean and bright. A handsome nearly fine copy.