WILDE, Oscar. Lady Windermere's Fan. A Play about a Good Woman. London: T. and A. Constable for Elkin Mathews and John Lane, 1893. 4° (210 x 149mm). 16-page publisher's catalogue dated September 1893 bound in at the end. (Occasional light spotting or marking.) Original light brown cloth, spine lettered in gilt, boards and spine gilt with designs after Charles Shannon (very lightly marked, spine ends lightly bumped), cloth chemise and slipcase. Provenance: Robert Baldwin Ross (1869-1918, presentation inscription on flyleaf 'To R. Tristram Ross from his affectionate friend the author. London. 93.'). FIRST EDITION, ONE OF 500 COPIES. Mason 357.
Oscar WILDE. Autograph letter signed ('Oscar') to Robert Ross, printed address heading 'AC' [?Albemarle Club, London], n.d. [?mid-February 1892], 2pp., 8°, on a bifolium, stating that he had visited Ross at 3 o'clock but had missed him, and asking 'Will you come to "Lady Windermere" on Monday--opening night--? I enclose two tickets--I must see you soon', and ending with a request that they meet before Wilde departs for Paris. The première of Lady Windermere's Fan was at St James's Theatre on Monday 22 February 1892; this letter was probably written during the week prior to the first night (cf. Wilde's letters inviting Arthur Clifton, Frances Forbes-Robertson and Richard Le Gallienne to the opening night written c. 16-18 February 1892, in: The Complete Letters (London: 2000) pp. 516-8).
FIRST EDITION OF LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN INSCRIBED TO ROBERT ROSS BY WILDE, WITH A LETTER INVITING ROSS TO THE FIRST NIGHT. Wilde first met Ross at Oxford in 1886, and was attracted by 'his wit, his ease, his loyalty, his buoyancy' (R. Ellmann Oscar Wilde, Oxford 1987, p.260). A passionate affair swiftly started, which continued intermittently after Ross went to King's College, Cambridge in 1888, leaving in 1889 to pursue a career as a journalist and critic. Both Ross and Wilde maintained that Ross was Wilde's first homosexual partner, and Ross's devotion, literary collaboration, and constant friendship--which outlasted the affair to continue to Wilde's death--were crucial to Wilde throughout his life, transiting not only the zenith of Wilde's fame but also the nadir of his notoriety. During and after Wilde's trial he supported the writer and assisted him in both literary and practical matters (for example, cf. lot 240, Ross's inscribed copy of The Ballad of Reading Gaol). Together with: Edith Countess of LYTTON (1841-1936). Autograph letter signed to Oscar Wilde, The Danes, Hertford, 2 January 1894, 2pp., 8° on a bifolium, thanking Wilde for a copy of Lady Windermere's Fan, 'with its touching dedication to my dear husband [i.e. Edward Robert Bulwer, first Earl of Lytton (1831-1891)]' and recalling 'the Paris days'. The dedication of Lady Windermere's Fan is 'To the dear memory of Robert Earl of Lytton in affection and admiration'. (3)