"HIS VOLUMES ARE THE JOURNAL OF ADAM IN PARADISE": THE NATURAL HISTORY OF SELBORNE, 1789 FIRST EDITION
WHITE, Gilbert. The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne. London: T. Bensley for B. White, 1789. Quarto, contemporary marbled boards rebacked in calf-gilt, red morocco spine label, uncut. Housed in a custom chemise and full morocco pull-off box. $4200.
First edition of this "solitary classic of natural history," with folding frontispiece panoramic view of Selborne and six engravings (one folding) by Peter Mazell and Daniel Lerpinire after drawings by Samuel Grimm. An uncut copy in orginal marbled boards.
"For some twenty years or more, White wrote a series of letters to Thomas Pennant and Daines Barrington, giving a remarkable account of the chief instances of the special habits of animals and of natural phenomena which he was daily observing… Selborne may be obscure; but it is a beautiful village in a beautiful country eminently suited for the purpose of White in making it the center of a life's work of zoological research and observation… His Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne holds a unique position in English literature as the solitary classic of natural history… The book was immediately popular both with the general public and with all naturalists, many of the most eminent of which class have successively edited it with additional and corroborative notes" (Cambridge History X, Chapter XI, Section 16). "He seems to have lived before the Fall. His volumes are the journal of Adam in Paradise" (Lowell). White's epistolary and poetic observations, among the earliest examples of modern phenology, are illustrated by Samuel Heironymus Grimm, who over a 20-year period was also employed by antiquarian Sir Richard Kaye, as his travel companion assigned to record "everything curious" that they discovered on their journeys. Additional engraved title page and section titles with engraved vignettes. Freeman, British Natural History Books 3976. Grolier English, 125. Bookplate of noted Boston book collector Frank Brewer Bemis. Early dealer description tipped in.
Text fine, some foxing to plates, contemporary marbled boards worn with some early paper repairs to boards. A very good uncut copy in a contemporary boards.