FIRST EDITION OF OSCAR WILDE'S IDEAL HUSBAND, A RARE THEATRICAL ASSOCIATION COPY WITH THE BOOKPLATE OF LEGENDARY ACTRESS AND DIRECTOR, EVA LE GALLIENNE
WILDE, Oscar. An Ideal Husband. London: Leonard Smithers and Co., 1899. Octavo, original lavender cloth gilt, uncut. $5500.
Limited first edition, one of 1000 unnumbered copies, an especially memorable association copy with the bookplate of award-winning actress and director, Eva Le Gallienne. "One of the grand figures of the American stage" (New York Times), she was the daughter of Wilde's colleague Richard Le Gallienne, a lovely copy in original decorative cloth designed by Charles Shannon.
Wilde's play premiered in January 1895 to an audience that included the Prince of Wales, and was an immediate success. Four months later, Wilde was in disgrace following his arrest for soliciting homosexual acts and his name was removed from the play's marquee (similarly, it appears nowhere in this edition). The play closed shortly thereafter and did not appear in print until this first edition. Mason 385. This especially memorable association copy contains the bookplate of Eva Le Gallienne who, as "actress, producer, director, translator, writer and teacher, was for many decades one of the grand figures of the American stage" (New York Times). "Over the course of her illustrious career she acted in and directed over 150 stage productions with roles spanning from Peter Pan to Hamlet to Hedda Gabler" (Legacy Project). Born in London, she was the daughter of Wilde's colleague Richard Le Gallienne, who is best remembered for his novel Quest of the Golden Girl and for his work with The Yellow Book.
Text quite fresh with only lightest foxing to preliminaries, tiny bit of soiling to bright gilt boards. A lovely near-fine copy with a fascinating theatrical provenance.