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Middlemarch
George Eliot, 1871-1872
ELIOT, George (1819-1880). Middlemarch. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood, December 1871 - December 1872.

First edition, first issue, in cloth-bound parts, of the work hailed as "magnificent" by Virginia Woolf and "the greatest" of English novels by Martin Amis and Julian Barnes. Due to the scope of her novel, Eliot and her companion George Lewes suggested to her publisher, John Blackwood, that the novel be published in eight parts priced at five shillings each and issued every two months starting in December 1871. Although Eliot found writing for serialization to be an enormously difficult task, Middlemarch proved to be a modestly popular success and cemented Eliot's reputation, selling 5,000 copies of the edition in parts and 3,000 additional copies of the four volume bound edition. Bibliographer William Baker notes that the binding is probably American, either New York or Boston. It was likely created for circulating libraries, where something more robust than the usual paper wrappers would be required. See Baker & Ross A10.1.a.

Eight volumes, octavo. Contemporary green cloth, with all wrappers, ads, and half-titles (one errata slip lacking; some minor soiling; vol 1: wrappers very light in color, as mentioned in NjP Copy 2 in Baker & Ross; some moisture spotting to rear cover; lacking slip announcing publication of Book 2; half-title bound after prelude). Provenance: Hawkinson (ownership inscription in all volumes).

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Heather Weintraub
Heather Weintraub Specialist, Books, Manuscripts, & Archives

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