WELLS, Herbert George (1866-1946). The Invisible Man. London: C. Arthur Pearson, 1897. 8° (184 x 108mm). (Marginal browning and occasional soiling, minor ink stains to front blank and half-title.) Original gilt-lettered, pictorial red cloth (extremities rubbed, minor stains, spine faded, corner torn from front and rear endpapers). Provenance: William Wymark Jacobs (half-title inscribed "W.W. Jacobs from H.G. Wells"; with Jacobs' "ex libris" silk bookmark).
FIRST EDITION IN BOOK FORM, PRESENTATION COPY TO W.W. JACOBS. Jacobs had begun to publish stories in the 1890s, though he was not yet a writer of international repute. His earliest stories often concerned the misadventues of sailors ashore, a natural reflection of his Wapping childhood. Many Cargoes (1896), his first collection, was followed by a novelette, The Skipper's Wooing, in 1897. Although their relationship has yet to be properly documented, Wells and Jacobs were close friends, enjoying mutual banter and a correspondence lasting from at least 1897 to 1907. In 1898, their childhood portraits appeared on facing pages of the Strand Magazine, leading Jacobs to comment (2 December, 1898): "I bought the Strand to-night and was surprised to see that you were such a plain baby ... If you want to see a beautiful spirituelle child look on the next page". Wells was convinced of Jacobs' talent, though perhaps unsure it was being applied correctly. Responding to an article in The Young Man on "The Decay of the Novel", he wrote a letter of protest to the editor (December/January 1902/3), putting Jacobs next to Conrad in his "haphazard" listing of important new writers. "But for the life of me I can't see any decay in its [the novel's] quality. Consider -- taking instances haphazard -- the character drawing and the texture of Mr. Joseph Conrad, the painstaking neatness of Mr. Jacobs (who is nevertheless popular), the quality of 'Anthony Hope', the artistic care of E.A. Bennett" (Corrspondence I, p. 411). Hammond B4.