"THIS WAS HISTORY HOT FROM THE PRESS, ENLIVENED BY SCATHING PEN PORTRAITS": FIRST EDITION OF H.G. WELLS’ THE NEW MACHIAVELLI, INSCRIBED BY WELLS TO HIS FRIEND AND SCIENTIFIC CONSULTANT SIR RICHARD GREGORY
WELLS, H.G. The New Machiavelli. London: John Lane, the Bodley Head, 1911. Octavo, original red cloth. $2000.
First English edition of this roman a clef, inscribed by Wells on the front free endpaper in the year of publication, "R.A.G.s from H.G. 1911" Presented to and from the collection of Wells’ close friend and frequent scientific adviser, Sir Richard Arman Gregory.
"The narrator, Remington, is a version of Wells, as is Wilkins the novelist, who had previously made a cameo appearance in Ann Veronica and who would appear in several later novels. Among other recognizable figures, Isabel Rivers is based on Amber [with whom Wells was having an affair], Oscar and Altiora Baileys on the Webbs, Willesley on Wallas, Evesham on Balfour, Cossington on Harmsworth and the Cramptons on C.P. and G.M. Trevelyan. For contemporary readers, this was history hot from the press, enlivened by scathing pen portraits. Wells offered the book to Macmillan in October 1909, assuring him that it was a political novel that contained nothing morally controversial… Macmillan told Wells that there was twice as much reason to reject The New Machiavelli as there had been to reject Ann Veronica" (Sherborne, 210). "The opening chapters of The New Machiavelli are notable for their description of Bromley at the time of the author's childhood" (Hammond). First published in New York in 1910. Hammond A7. Wells 40. Inscribed to noted British scientist and Wells' lifelong friend Sir Richard Arman Gregory. In Wells' first work of fiction, he dedicated the work to Gregory as his "dearest friend." The two met while students at the Normal School of Science in South Kensington. They jointly authored a textbook, Honours Physiography, in 1891. Reportedly, Gregory was the one person with whom Wells never quarreled. A professor of astronomy, Gregory also possessed expertise in physics, chemistry and other disciplines; he wrote several textbooks and eventually assumed the editorship of the journal Nature, to which Wells frequently contributed. The author often turned to Gregory, and to the experts Gregory contacted on Wells' behalf, for insight and encouragement when writing his famous "scientific romances." After Wells' death, Gregory worked to establish the H.G. Wells Memorial to preserve public attention to his friend's body of work. Throughout his life Gregory was a passionate advocate for science—"It is necessary to believe in the holiness of scientific work," he once declared—and "an optimist about man's future" (Horrabin, in New Scientist, April 11, 1957).
A bit of foxing to first few and last few leaves; spine sunned. An exceptionally good presentation-association copy.