CONRAD, Joseph (1857-1924) and Ford Madox HUEFFER (1873-1939). The Inheritors. An Extravagant Story. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co. [rubberstamped "London: William Heinemann"], 1901. 8° (pp. 127-134 with tears and splits at upper inner margin, slight spotting). Original pictorial yellow cloth after McLellan, top edge cut, others uncut (spine darkened and a little frayed at head, covers lightly soiled, corners bumped). PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY FORD TO ELSIE HUEFFER, THE INSCRIPTION SIGNED BY CONRAD AND BY HUEFFER WITH INITIALS, reading: "To Elsie, the collaborator Jph Conrad & the other F.M.H."
UK COPYRIGHT COPY OF FIRST AMERICAN EDITION. The Inheritors was first published in early June 1901 by the New York firm of McClure, Phillips & Co. The earliest copies of this edition mis-spelt the name of Conrad's son as "Boys" on the dedication page, but the error was promptly discovered and all but a handful of copies (four according to David Harvey's 1962 bibliography of Ford Madox Ford) have a stub-mounted cancel leaf in which the name is correctly spelt "Borys". This copy has the name correctly spelt, and an indiarubber stamp denoting it a UK copyright copy of the first American edition. T. J. Wise's Bibliography of Conrad (1921) notes that : "A few copies of this edition -- the publisher thinks there were seven or eight -- were forwarded to London, and issued for copyright purposes by William Heinemann. These have the words "London William Heinemann" added at the foot of the title-page by means of an ordinary indiarubber stamp. An example is in the British Museum." In addition to having the top edge cut, and others uncut, the cover design on this copy has the sky in gilt, all indications, says Harvey, of "early issues". The first British edition of 1500 copies, published at six shillings, followed from William Heinemann at the end of June.
A RARE DOUBLE PRESENTATION COPY, commemorating a notable literary collaboration. A Conrad Memorial Library: The Collection of George T. Keating (Garden City, N.Y., 1929) includes four copies of The Inheritors inscribed by both Conrad and Hueffer; however, of these only one copy, inscribed to Ethel George, sister of Mrs Conrad, was signed by both authors to the one recipient. Ford had first met the Polish novelist in September 1898 at Gracie's Cottage, Limpsfield, the home that he and his wife, Elsie, rented off their friend, Edward Garnett. Although Conrad was 41 and Ford only 24, the two men found a common literary purpose -- to remodel English fiction according to the principles of their shared gods: Turgenev, Flaubert and Maupassant -- and within a month had agreed to collaborate. The Inheritors was the first of their joint works to be published, and was followed by Romance and The Nature of a Crime (first published in Ford's English Review in 1909). "The main interest of The Inheritors is that some of the major themes of Ford's personal and literary life become evident ... Central to the story is a hard, attractive woman and a man whose self-doubts focus on the likelihood that a writer or artist may devote his life to his work yet die without the recognition that is his due" (Alan Judd, Ford Madox Ford, 1990, p. 71). If Hueffer was primarily responsible for the writing, Conrad contributed much to the speaking which preceded it. "My share in this work is very small so far as actual writing goes," he stated. "But it has been the cause of long and heated discussions, lasting well into many nights" (quoted by Wise and Harvey).
It was the painful and protracted break-up of the Hueffer marriage following Ford's adultery with Violet Hunt -- along with disputes relating to his editorship of The English Review -- which led to the souring of Ford's relationship with Conrad in 1909/10, a breach which, on Conrad's side, was only partially healed in subsequent years. Ford never lost his devotion to the older man, and wrote to Edward Garnett on his death: "My affection for Conrad was so great and remained so unchanged that I have never been able really to believe in his death . . . he could not really get on without me any more than I could or can get on without him, and I do not shrink from saying that at this moment I cannot see for tears" (Judd p. 64). Harvey A9; Wise Joseph Conrad 8 & 9.