THE LIFE OF 19TH-CENTURY LONDON ACTRESS ELIZA VESTRIS, EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED AND WITH AN AUTOGRAPH SIGNED LETTER TIPPED IN
(VESTRIS, Eliza) GRIFFINHOOFE, Arthur, alleged pseudonym of COLMAN, George. Memoirs of the Life, Public and Private Adventures, of Madame Vestris; Formerly of the Theatre Royal San Carlos; and Now of the Theatres Royal Drury Lane & Covent Garden. London: John Duncombe, circa 1836. Octavo, contemporary full brown morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. $1800.
Early edition of this biography of one of 19th-century London’s most famous and controversial actresses, extra-illustrated with an autograph signed letter by Eliza Vestris, as well as dozens of color plates and black-and-white illustrations related to Vestris’ life.
At the beginning of the 19th century, opera singer and actress Eliza Vestris was one of the best known stars of the London stage. “Possessor of ‘one of the most luscious of low voices,’ great sprightliness and vivacity, a beautiful face, and ‘an almost faultless figure,” she made her debut in 1815 in an Italian opera at the King’s Theatre (DNB). From that point, she moved on to bigger and more noteworthy roles, including dramatic speaking parts, so-called “breeches” parts, and a wide variety of singing roles in which she always excelled. This work, though containing a number of scandalous and unproven anecdotes, was quite popular in its day and remains a valuable account due to its contemporary publication.
Small chip to closely mounted letter, only occasional foxing and soiling to extra plates, light expert restoration to binding. A most desirable extra-illustrated copy in near-fine condition.