[WILDE, Oscar]. An Ideal Husband. London: Chiswick Press for Leonard Smithers and Co, 1899.
4° (221 x 176mm). (A few leaves lightly marked.) Original vellum gilt, lettered in gilt on the spine, boards and spine with gilt designs after Charles Shannon (a little marked and darkened, extremities lightly rubbed, covers slightly bowed), 20th-century morocco-backed slipcase. Provenance: 'Frank' [i.e. James Thomas] Harris (1856-1931, presentation inscription on verso of half-title 'To Frank , Harris: , whose name , I have written , on the portal , of my play. , OW.') -- John Batterson Stetson, Jr (1884-1952, U.S. Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Finland and then Poland, booklabel on upper pastedown) -- A. Edward Newton, Oak Knoll, 1909 (1864-1940, engraved bookplate on upper pastedown; his sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, 29-30 October 1941, lot 553) -- purchased from Scribners, New York, 12 November 1941, $253. Exhibited: Grolier Club, New York (1950s exhibition label loosely inserted).
FIRST EDITION, ONE OF 12 SIGNED COPIES ON JAPANESE VELLUM FOR PRESENTATION. THE DEDICATION COPY, INSCRIBED TO FRANK HARRIS BY WILDE. Harris had assisted Wilde before the trial (even to the extent of planning an escape) and had remained loyal after the trial, visiting him in prison and supporting him financially and practically after his release, prompting Wilde's dedication: 'To Frank Harris , A slight tribute to , his power and distinction , as an artist , his chivalry and nobility , as a friend'. In addition, Harris claimed responsibilty for the play's plot; his copy of An Ideal Husband in the Hyde Collection bears the autograph note 'This book came from a story I heard in Egypt about Lord Rothschild and Disraeli. Rothschild wanted to get back moneys he had loaned to Ismail Pasha, Khedive of Egypt. He persuaded Disraeli to buy Suez Canal shares from the Egyptian Government through his house. Rothschild of course added his previous debt to the commission and so netted two birds in one throw. I thought of a drama on the subject and told it to Oscar Wilde who used the story in this play' (O. Wilde The Complete Letters, ed. M. Holland and R. Hart-Davis. (London: 2000), p.1131). Mason 387 (citing this copy).