[BYRON, George Gordon, 6th Baron (1788-1824)]. Don Juan. London: Thomas Davison [cantos I-V] and John Hunt [cantos VI-XVI], 1819-1824.
16 cantos in 6 unnumbered volumes, the first 4° (295 x 222mm), the remaining volumes demy 8° (228 x 140mm). Second volume with slip announcing the 'Illustrations of Kenilworth.' Fourth volume with two advertisement leaves at end, final volume with erratum slip and 8 additional advertisement leaves, not called for by Wise. (Light spotting, mainly in first vol., a few short marginal tears.) Uncut in original drab boards except for the final volume, a variant in original blue boards backed in paper, paper spine labels (some rubbing to joints of quarto vol., final vol. slightly soiled, spine labels a little rubbed), the set preserved in two matching moroocco-backed green hessian boxes. Provenance: Kennedy (signature on title to first vol., possibly the Marquis of Ailsa).
FINE UNCUT COPIES IN ORIGINAL BOARDS; FIRST EDITION OF EACH VOLUME; LARGE-PAPER COPIES OF VOLUMES II-VI. 1500 copies were printed of the first volume, containing the first two cantos; of these 150 were 'wasted.' Byron wrote to Richard Belgrave Hoppner from Venice on 29 October, 1819, in some annoyance after hearing from John Murray about the slow sale of Cantos I-II. 'He told me the sale had not been great -- 1200 out of 1500 quarto I believe (which is nothing after selling 13000 of The Corsair in one day) but that the "best judges, etc.", had said it was very fine, and clever, and particularly good English, and poetry, and all those consolatory things which are not, however, worth a single copy to a bookseller; -- and as to the author -- of course I am in a damned passion at the bad taste of the times, and swear there is nothing like posterity, who of course must know more of the matter than their Grandfathers' (Letters, edited by R.G. Howarth, 1971, p. 236). 1500 large paper copies of the next three volumes are known to have been printed in demy 8°, in addition to the ordinary copies on foolscap 8°, and a 'common' (18°) edition of cantos VI-XVI. Wise Byron II, pp. 3-8. (6)