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[WILDE, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills (1854-1900).] The Ballad of Reading Gaol by C.3.3. London: [The Chiswick Press for] Leonard Smithers, 1898.
[WILDE, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills (1854-1900).] The Ballad of Reading Gaol by C.3.3. London: [The Chiswick Press for] Leonard Smithers, 1898.

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[WILDE, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills (1854-1900).] The Ballad of Reading Gaol by C.3.3. London: [The Chiswick Press for] Leonard Smithers, 1898.

8° (225 x 136mm). (Occasional very light marking, tiny marginal tear to E4, without loss.) Original white linen-backed cinnamon linen-covered boards by Matthew Bell & Co., uncut (spine darkened, extremities lightly rubbed and soiled, endpapers lightly browned). Provenance: AUTHOR'S PRESENTATION COPY (inscribed in ink on verso of half-title, dated 'Naples [18]98', to:) -- [John] Rowland Fothergill (inscribed by Wilde as 'The Architect of the Moon'; Fothergill's ink signature on front endpaper) -- thence by descent -- H.S. Wood (long inscription by Trooper Wooldridge's lawyer on recto of limitation leaf).

SPLENDID PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, one of 800 copies on hand-made paper, from an edition of 830. John Rowland Fothergill (1876-1957) was introduced to Wilde through Robbie Ross, and visited Wilde at the Châlet Bourgevat, Berneval, near Dieppe, in the summer of 1897. For most of the early part of his life Fothergill lived the life of a dilettante, but for a short time he studied to be an architect at the London School of Architecture under Sir Arthur Blomfield. This quickly came to naught, but Wilde continued to label Fothergill 'the architect', hence his inscription here. Sometime later, Fothergill co-incidentally met H.S. Wood, Trooper Wooldridge's lawyer, on a train, and persuaded him to write the additional inscription found in the present work. Latterly, Fothergill joined Edward Perry Warren's Lewes House Brotherhood, and helped collect antiquities for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, before, at the age of 46, and to the astonishment of his friends, becoming the innkeeper of the Spreadeagle at Thame. There he became an accomplished innkeeper, earning fame with the first of his published memoirs An Innkeeper's Diary (1931). Mason 371; cf. Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde (1987), n526, indicating this is ONE OF 20 INSCRIBED PRESENTATION COPIES ONLY; Neil McKenna, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (2003), pp.587-8; David Sox, Bachelors of Art (1991), pp.138-142.

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Henrietta Greene
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