PAYN, James (1830-1898). Autograph manuscript of By Proxy, dated on last page, '10 November 1876', written in ink and in pencil on recto, including corrections and revisions, approximately 539 pages, 4to, bound with notes in a different hand quoting from the manuscript, in two volumes, red morocco gilt by Riviere, gilt fillets, spine gilt in six compartments, lettered in two, roll-tooled gilt turn-ins; together with an autograph letter signed by Payn to an unidentified correspondent, Maida Vale, n.d., about reviews of his works. Provenance. Sir Hugh Walpole (annotation in pencil on first blank).
The working manuscript of Payn's most popular novel, published in 1878. Set partly in China, the central theme is of the conflict between obligation and self-interest, culminating in the confession of the main character, Ralph Pennicuik, that by allowing a friend to be executed by the Chinese he had himself escaped, with at the end an unexpected and dramatic turn of fate, and a touching reunion of father and daughter.
A contributor to Dickens' Household Words, Payn edited the Cornhill Magazine from 1883-1896. As well as many successful novels, he also wrote verse and his Literary Recollections.