"WHEN YOU CALL ME THAT, SMILE": FIRST EDITION OF OWEN WISTER'S THE VIRGINIAN, 1902
WISTER, Owen. The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains. New York: MacMillan, 1902. Octavo, original beige cloth illustrated in red, black and gilt. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $1600.
First edition of the novel that defined "America's most durable hero—the cowboy," with eight full-page illustrations by Arthur Keller, a handsome copy.
Owen Wister's novel of Wyoming cowpunchers "became one of the first mass-market bestsellers and stands as a defining text for America's most durable hero— the cowboy… In a way, after The Virginian, there need never have been another western. In a way, there wasn't" (Harvard Magazine). Having "established many of the patterns of fiction about the West and created a native mythology" (Hart, 841), Wister's lead character became "the progenitor of every cowboy-hero who has drawn a gun since the turn of the century" (Downs, Famous American Books 30). Born to an old Philadelphia family, Wister took the advice of Harvard classmate Theodore Roosevelt and traveled west in the 1880s. When Roosevelt later suggested a novel based on his experiences, Wister responded with The Virginian, dedicating it to Roosevelt. Basis for the 1946 film classic starring Joel McCrea and Brian Donlevy. With six pages of publisher's advertisements at rear; without very scarce original dust jacket. Bruccoli & Clark IV:392. Graff 4725.
Text and plates fine, rear inner paper hinge starting but sound, in bright colorful cloth. A desirable about-fine copy.