• The William E. Self Library, I auction at Christies

    Sale 2153

    The William E. Self Library, Important English and American Literature

    4 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 136

    ELIOT, George. Romola. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1863.

    Price Realised  


    ELIOT, George. Romola. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1863.

    3 volumes, 8o. Advertisement leaf at end of volume 2. Orginal green cloth, spines gilt (joints cracked but firm); slipcase. Provenance: Edith Barbara Tranter (bookplate); David and Lulu Borowitz (their sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, 9 November 1977, lot 94).

    FIRST EDITION, originally published in fourteen parts in Cornhill Magazine from July 1862 to August 1863. A strict departure from Eliot's earlier works, Romola was an historical romance set in the 15th-century and focused on the intellectual, artistic, and social points of view of Renaissance Florence. One of Eliot's least popular works, Smith, Elder & Co. reportedly paid Eliot £7,000 for the novel, but was less than satisfied at its commercial success. [Tipped in:] AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED BY ELIOT to Emily Faithful, dated Dorkin, 1 March 1863, and signed "M.E. Lewes" mentioning Romola and her work as a novelist: "I regret that my absence from home deprived me of the pleasure of explaining to you personally, the reasons which render me unable to undertake the work you propose... "Romola" will continue its monthly appearance until August, & various considerations forbid my contemplating the publication of another work till after that time. Further my feelings about authorship would not allow me to enter into an engagement to produce a work which I had not already determined on, & so far initiated as to have a fair augury of its character. And at present I have no intention to commence a new work until after an interval, during which I may be fallow & if possible get a better soil for any intention to grow in..."

    FIRST EDITION Parrish 18; Sadlier 817; Wolff 2061. (3)

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