[GASKELL, Elizabeth Cleghorn (1810-1865)]. Ruth. London: C. Whiting for Chapman and Hall, 1853. 3 volumes, 8° (200 x 122mm). Original blind-stamped purple cloth, the covers blind-stamped with an elaborate floral panel within a border of fillets and a waved band, the spines titled in gilt and decorated in blind, original lemon-yellow endpapers, the upper endpapers in volumes I and II with printed advertisements for 'Chapman & Hall's Series' and 'Novels and Tales , of , Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, Bart [...] Works of Charles Dickens [...] Works of Thomas Carlyle [...] Mr. & Mrs. Browning' respectively, the other endpapers plain (spines slightly faded and cocked, extremities lightly rubbed, splitting on hinges, short splits on upper joint of volume I). Contained in a gilt morocco-backed folding box. FIRST EDITIONLS. PARRISH VICTORIAN LADY NOVELISTS P.61 (CALLING FOR A CATALOGUE AT THE END OF VOLUME I); SADLEIR 933 (NOT CALLING FOR CATALOGUE).
[WITH:] E.C. GASKELL. AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED TO E[DWARD] CHAPMAN, 12 UPPER MUMFORD STREET, 12 JUNE N.Y. , 3 PAGES, 12MO, AFFIXED BY TAPE TO THE FRONT FREE ENDPAPER OF VOLUME I OF RUTH. ANNOUNCING HER DECISION TO USE A PSEUDONYM. 'I BELIEVE MY WISH NOT TO GIVE MY NAME AS THE AUTHOR IS NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO INDUCE ME TO LEAVE THE BOOK TO ITS ''UNASSISTED MERITS'' AND AS YOU SAY THAT A FICTITIOUS NAME IS BETTER THAN NONE, I WILL TAKE THAT OF COTTON MATHER MILLS'.
THE FIRST EDITION OF GASKELL'S SECOND NOVEL IN THE ORIGINAL CLOTH, WITH AN AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED TO HER PUBLISHER announcing her nom de plume. Mrs Gaskell's choice of pseudonym reflects William Gaskell's love of puns and linguistic subtleties. Cotton Mather was an American Puritan minister of the late 17th century, who took part in the Salem witchcraft trials. 'Mills' suggests the Manchester cotton manufacturers. She used the name for the first time in 1847, for the contract for her stories in Howitts Journal. Edward Chapman was the first publisher to accept Mrs Gaskell's first novel Mary Barton, (1848), after several others had rejected it, and she remained with his firm until 1857, a period which spanned the important early novels including Mary Barton, Cranford, and North and South. (3)