16 November 2005
WILDE, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills (1854-1900). The Ballad of Reading Gaol by C.3.3. London: [The Chiswick Press for] Leonard Smithers, 1898.
8° (225 x 136mm). (Occasional very light marking.) Original white-linen-backed cinnamon-linen-covered boards by Matthew Bell & Co., unopened (lightly marked, a little spotted on spine, endpapers lightly browned), 20th-century morocco-backed slipcase. Provenance: Fanny Brimacombe (presentation inscription on verso of half-title 'To Miss Fanny Brimacombe, with the compliments of the author, and his thanks. Paris. '98') -- Mary Pinkerton Carlisle (d. 1938, gilt morocco booklabel).
FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED IN THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION. One of 800 copies on hand-made paper, from an edition of 830. Wilde had begun writing the poem in exile at the Châlet Bourgevat, Berneval, near Dieppe in the summer of 1897. Smithers sent a final proof to him in Naples on 29 December, and the work was officially published on 13 February, by which time Wilde had returned to Paris. Smithers only risked printing 400 out of the projected 800 copies in January 1898, but early in February ordered 400 more and then had to print another thousand the same month. Mason 371.
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