"SCAN THE HORIZON, SEE THE PAST IN RELATION TO THE FUTURE; AND SO PREPARE THE WAY FOR MASTERPIECES TO COME": EXCEPTIONAL ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITIONS OF THE FIRST AND SECOND SERIES OF VIRGINIA WOOLF'S THE COMMON READER (1925, 1932), LEONARD WOOLF'S OWN COPIES, SIGNED AND DATED BY HIM IN EACH VOLUME, IN RARE DUST JACKETS
(LEONARD WOOLF) WOOLF, Virginia. The Common Reader. WITH: The Common Reader. Second Series. London: Leonard & Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1925, 1932. Octavo, original half gray cloth, original green cloth, original pictorial paper boards, original dust jackets. Housed together in a custom clamshell box. $42,000.
First editions of Virginia Woolf's popular and influential collections of essays, Leonard Woolf's personal copies of the first and second series of The Common Reader with his owner signatures and dates in purple ink dated nine years after her death, "Leonard Woolf Oct 1950," exceedingly rare in the original dust jackets.
The Common Reader was conceived as a collection of informal essays designed to introduce good literature to members of the wider public or, to use the label she borrowed from Samuel Johnson, the "common readers." When the first Common Reader was published in 1925 in an edition of only 1250 copies, The Observer praised it, noting that "few books can show a deeper enjoyment, a wider range, or a finer critical intelligence." In fact, the Common Reader was so successful that "in refashioning the informal, critical essay to her own unique perspective, [Woolf] had taught a new generation how to read, how to become uncommon readers" (Willis 114).
"Woolf's essays can be read as the autobiography of a reader, full of personal emotion and intimacy… her character, her experience and her voice come very close to us." After her death in 1941, "her reputation was husbanded by Leonard Woolf's policy of issuing, at regular intervals, a series of selections of her uncollected essays," including The Captain's Death Bed in 1950, the same year as the date of his owner inscription herein (Cambridge Companion, 104, 91). In addition to co-founding Hogarth Press with Virginia Woolf, Leonard Woolf "wrote several highly original and influential books, a brilliant novel, and an autobiography that many rate as one of the best works in that genre of the 20th century" (Wilson, International Theory, viii). The first Common Reader includes Woolf's essays on Jane Austen, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad, modern fiction, modern essays, "The Russian Point of View," "On Not Knowing Greek," and many others. The Common Reader: Second Series shares the spirit and style of the first and includes, among others, the essays, "The Strange Elizabethans," "Lord Chesterfield's Letters to His Son," "The Novels of Thomas Hardy," and "How Should One Read a Book?" Dust jackets designed by Vanessa Bell. Kirkpatrick A8, A18a.
Interiors fresh with only lightest foxing mainly to preliminaries, cloth fresh and bright; light foxing to bright colorful dust jackets, first series dust jacket with small closed tear to front seam, tiny bit of dampstaining to toned spine. We know of no other sets signed by Leonard Woolf.