"THE MOST INTELLIGENT PIECE OF ENGLISH DRAMATIC WRITING OF OUR DAY": FIRST EDITION OF WILDE'S WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
WILDE, Oscar. A Woman of No Importance. London: John Lane at the Sign of the Bodley Head, 1894. Octavo, original gilt-stamped lavender cloth, uncut and partially unopened. $2500.
First edition, one of 500 unnumbered copies, in original decorative cloth designed by Charles Shannon, with the bookplate of famous book collector Carroll Atwood Wilson.
Wilde's drama was first performed at London's Haymarket Theatre on April 19, 1893. A contemporary reviewer praised "the keenness of [Wilde's] intellect, the individuality of his point of view, the excellence of his verbal style, and above all the genuinely dramatic quality of his inspirations. I do not hesitate to call… this play the most virile and intelligent… piece of English dramatic writing of our day" (Mason 364). With 16-page Elkin Mathews and John Lane Publisher's catalogue at rear, dated 1894. The Mathews/Lane partnership was dissolved in August of 1894 while this work was in proof. Mason 364. Publisher's bookplate. Bookplate of Carroll Atwood Wilson, the distinguished book collector and lawyer who served as chief counsel to the Guggenheims. Wilson was a member of the prestigious Grolier Club, as well as vice-president of the Bibliographical Society of America.
Interior with mild toning, occasional soiling to cloth, a bit of toning to extremities as virtually always. An extremely good copy with an impressive provenance.