Life of Samuel Johnson, the Newton copy with uncancelled leaf
Life of Samuel Johnson, the Newton copy with uncancelled leaf
Life of Samuel Johnson, the Newton copy with uncancelled leaf
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Life of Samuel Johnson, the Newton copy with uncancelled leaf

JAMES BOSWELL, 1741

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Life of Samuel Johnson, the Newton copy with uncancelled leaf
James Boswell, 1741
BOSWELL, James (1740-1795). The Life of Samuel Johnson. London: Printed by Henry Baldwin for Charles Dilly, 1791.

The Newton copy of the first edition, uncut, of Boswell's celebrated biography. This copy with the rare uncancelled leaf containing Johnson’s controversial remarks on marital infidelity. Johnson's position was that "between a man and his wife, a husband's infidelity is nothing. They are connected by children, by fortune, by serious considerations of community. Wise married women don't trouble themselves about infidelity in their husbands; they detest a mistress, but don't mind a whore. My wife told me I might lye with as many women as I pleased, provided I loved her alone." Boswell assumed that Mrs Johnson had not been in earnest but Dr Johnson assured him that she was. There are six other cancelled leaves in the first edition, generally omitting text that identified certain individuals. ABPC records only one other copy at auction, with the most recent selling in 2002. The present copy is the first state, with "gve" for "give" on page 135. Rothschild 463.

Two volumes, quarto (290 x 220mm). Engraved portrait frontispiece of Johnson by James Heath after Sir Joshua Reynolds, 2 engraved plates of facsimiles by H. Shepherd, six cancel leaves present (a little browning and fraying to final leaves of vol.1, small loss to lower margin of second plate, repaired tear to lower corner of leaf Ooo in vol. 2 touching a few words, minor soiling in a handful of places, lacking first blank in vol.2). Contemporary quarter calf over marbled boards, vellum corners (rebacked with some of original spine preserved, chipping to joints). Custom clamshell box. Provenance: shelf mark to endpaper - Edward Dalton (bookplate) - A. Edward Newton, 1864-1940 (bookplate) - Charles J. Rosenbloom (bookplate; Sotheby’s New York 14 June 1993, lot 88).

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