“ON THE LIBRARY WALL… HANG TWO CROSSED SWORDS”: FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM OF THACKERAY’S VIRGINIANS, 1858-59, THE FINAL BOOK ILLUSTRATED BY THACKERAY HIMSELF
THACKERAY, William Makepeace. The Virginians: A Tale of the Last Century. London: Bradbury and Evans, 185859. Two volumes. Octavo, original blue cloth, custom chemises and slipcase. $950.
First edition in book form of Thackeray’s tale of brethren divided during the American Revolution, the last book the author himself illustrated. Very scarce in original cloth.
Like his contemporary (and rival) Charles Dickens, Thackeray visited the United States (first in 1852-53, again in 1855-56); unlike his fellow novelist, however, Thackeray “had on the whole a happy time… He was willing, as Dickens had not been, to see the greatness of the country and recognize that the promise of the future atoned for the shortcomings of the present… Impressions of the second tour were worked into The Virginians,” Thackeray’s continuation of the family saga he began in The History of Henry Esmond (1852) (Baugh et al., 1358-59). Here, the author traces the fortunes of Henry Esmond’s grandsons as the Revolutionary War divides them. With 48 engraved plates and several small in-text woodcuts by Thackeray—the last book he himself illustrated. Originally printed 1857-59 in 24 serial issues; this is the first edition in book form. First issue, with the first word on page 207, line 15 from the bottom misprinted “actresses,” chapters 47 and 48 misnumbered. Van Duzer 232. Early dealer description tipped to front free endpaper of Vol. I.
Usual foxing and toning to plates, text quite clean. Rear hinge of Vol I. split but holding firm. Original cloth in unusually nice condition. Rare in original cloth.