WELLS, H.G. The Croquet Player. London: Chatto & Windus, 1936. 8o. Original cloth, paper label (spine a shade faded); pictorial dust jacket (lightly used). FIRST EDITION of this novella. THE DEDICATION COPY, inscribed by Wells on the half-title: "To Moura Dear Heart HGW." Around the printed dedication ("To Moura") Wells has drawn a circle and "rays," indicating a "sun." The dedicatee, Baroness Moura Zakrevskaya Benckendorff Budberg, was one of the principal women in Wells's life and his relationship with her was the longest of his romantic associations (including his marriages). Wells first met Moura in 1914. Six years later when he visited Maxim Gorky in Russia, Moura was acting as Gorky's secretary (and mistress); Wells fell deeply in love with her. Moura later went into exile with Gorky but when he returned to the Soviet Union in 1931, she went to London to be near Wells. Despite indications that Moura was assigned by the Soviet secret police to spy on Gorky (and possibly Wells also), Wells could not give her up, and he and Moura remained close for the rest of his life -- as is evident from this 1936 dedication copy.