STOKER, Bram (1847-1912). Dracula. Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, 1897.
8o. Original yellow cloth, red-lettered on covers and spine, partially unopened (covers soiled, 2-inch closed tear on front cover, some foxing to endleaves). Provenance: Henry A. Blyth (d.1901, presentation inscription); Derek Marlowe, suspense novelist and scriptwriter (bookplate).
A VERY EARLY PRESENTATION COPY
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, without the advertisements at end. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY STOKER TO NOTED COLLECTOR HENRY A. BLYTH on the front free endpaper: "Henry A Blyth from his old friend Bram Stoker 31.5.97." Although Darby notes that Dracula was not officially published until June, other sources show the date as May 26th. Farson in The Man Who Wrote Dracula writes: "There was a read-through of a swiftly dramatised version of Dracula presented on the stage of the Lyceum at ten in the morning of Tuesday 18 May, the month the book was published. This was purely for copyright purposes, to protect the novel from piracy..." In her biography of Stoker, Barbara Belford explains: "Dracula arrived at booksellers on May 26, 1897...Dramatic rights were protected with a prepublication copyright reading at the Lyceum on May 18 at 10:15 a.m. The script, divided into five acts, forty-seven scenes, and a prologue, was a cut-and-paste narrative produced from galley proofs. Everything was rushed, but rights--not craft--were at issue."
3,000 copies of Dracula were sent to bookstores. Charlotte Stoker wrote to her son, the author: "My dear, it is splendid, a thousand miles beyond anything you have written before, and I feel certain will place you very high in the writers of the day--the story and style being deeply sensational, exciting and interesting... No book since Mrs. Shelley's 'Frankenstein' or indeed any other at all has come near yours in originality, or terror." This maternal praise was echoed by a devoted Victorian readership but not always by contemporary critics, some of whom objected to the novel's imaginative structure. Arthur Conan Doyle, however, wrote that Dracula was "the very best story of diablerie which I have read for many years. It is really wonderful how with so much exciting interest over so long a book there is never an anticlimax." Stoker died 20 April 1912, not living long enough to see Dracula's immense cultural impact, and its many permutations in print and on the screen. INSCRIBED COPIES OF THE FIRST EDITION OF DRACULA ARE NOW QUITE SCARCE, ESPECIALLY FROM SUCH AN EARLY DATE. Bleiler, p.187; Dalby 10(a).