4 December 2009
ELIOT, George. Middlemarch. A Study of Provincial Life. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, December 1871- December 1872.
8 parts, 8o (177 x 125 mm). Title-page in part one, half-title in part 2, additional 3 half-titles and title-pages for parts, 2, 3, and 4 bound after the final text leaf in part 8, errata slip in part 4. (Gathering S in part 2 sprung.) Original green printed wrappers, pictorial vignette in center of front wrappers (spines of part one chipped with slight loss, small repair at head of spine of part 6, some very minor soiling, else fine and bright); red quarter morocco folding case. Provenance: Louise Ward Watkins (bookplates detached from inside front wrapper of each part).
FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL PARTS OF ELIOT'S GREATEST NOVEL AND ONE OF THE MASTERPIECES OF VICTORIAN FICTION. Volume one with back cover advertisements varying from those called for in Parrish, all other ads present. 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. While each part gave the reader more of the story than the traditional monthly serial publications, the more expensive price and the wait of two months for the next part meant Eliot needed to ensure her plots kept the public interested enough to purchase the next installment. 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. Parrish 29-31.
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