CONRAD, Joseph (1857-1924) and Ford Madox HUEFFER (1873-1939). Romance. London: Smith, Elder, 1903. 8° (slight spotting). Original cloth, upper cover lettered in white, spine in gilt (extremities lightly rubbed, one corner bumped, rear inner hinges split). PRESENTATION COPY TO MRS. WILLIAM MARTINDALE SIGNED BY BOTH CONRAD AND HUEFFER. The inscription to his mother-in-law is in Hueffer's hand and reads: "Mrs William Martindale affectionately from Joseph Conrad & Ford Madox Hueffer October 1903."
RARE DOUBLE PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION which marks the most successful and complete collaboration between Ford and Conrad. A Conrad Memorial Library: The Collection of George T. Keating includes two copies of Romance inscribed by both authors, but in neither case is the copy signed for presentation on the same occasion. Although based on an uncompleted adventure novel, Seraphina, which Hueffer began before he met Conrad, Romance was a truly collaborative work. Despite the distraction of their own individual projects -- which, in Conrad's case, included two of his masterpieces, Lord Jim and Typhoon -- both worked hard if intermittently on the book. An exotic thriller in the manner of Robert Louis Stevenson, it finally appeared in October 1903 in an edition of 2000 copies. Conrad acknowledged "In this book I have done my share of writing. Most of the characters ... were introduced by Hueffer and developed then in my own way with, of course, his consent and collaboration. The last part is, like the first, the work of Hueffer, except a few portions written by me. Part second is actually joint work. Parts 3 and 4 are my writing, with here and there a sentence by Hueffer" (quoted by Wise, p. 31). In a review for TP's Weekly, the younger man highly praised "what, for want of a more precise word, one may call the glamour of Mr. Conrad." Henry James, in a letter to Hueffer, likened the book to "an immense English plum-cake." But Graham Greene, who revered both novelists, called Romance "that underrated novel" (Collected Essays, p.163). Hueffer chose lines from the dedicatory poem to Romance for a garland of flowers which he asked a friend to place on Conrad's grave in Canterbury ("C'est toi qui dors dans l'ombre, ô sacré Souvenir"/"It is you who sleeps in the shadow, o sacred Memory").
The dedication of this copy to Ford's mother-in-law is particularly poignant as his father-in-law, Dr William Martindale, had died just the year before, almost certainly by his own hand. Hueffer first proposed to the Martindale's daughter, Elsie, on her sixteenth birthday, when he himself was just nineteen, and her parents were understandably suspicious of this precocious suitor with his unconventional family and literary ambitions. The young couple's elopement and marriage in the spring of 1894 -- to which the Martindales were alerted by a telegram from their friend, the composer Edward Elgar -- put further strain on the relationship, but Martindale quickly mellowed towards his son-in-law, and in January 1901, just a year before his death, he bought the couple 'The Bungalow', the Winchelsea home where, over the next decade, they entertained Conrad, Wells and other members of the largely expatriate community of writers gathered in that corner of Sussex. Harvey A11; Wise Joseph Conrad 14.