WOOLF, Virginia (1882-1941). Orlando. A Biography. New York: Crosby Gaige, 1928.
8o. Photographic frontispiece and plates. (Pale circular stain in upper margin from center to end). Original black gilt-decorated cloth, top edge gilt (front hinge cracked, covers a bit faded). Provenance: James R. Wells, publisher (presentation inscription).
FIRST EDITION, LIMITED ISSUE, number 35 of 861 copies signed by Woolf on the verso of the half-title (a further limitation, probably 15 copies or fewer, was printed on green paper and specially bound). PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY WOOLF TO JAMES R. WELLS on the front free endpaper: "James R. Wells Virginia Woolf Jan 8th 1929." The deluxe issue was published on 2 October 1928; the first English edition appeared nine days later.
A FINE ASSOCIATION: Orlando was published under the Crosby Gaige imprint in New York, during Gaige's last days as director of the press. By the end of the year, James R. Wells was in the process of acquiring ownership of the press. By January, he had gained control and paid a visit to one of his key writers, Virginia Woolf. Woolf took the opportunity to discuss her own work with Wells, as well as that of her friend Vita Sackville-West, Orlando's dedicatee. She wrote to Sackville-West on January 8th, the very day of this inscription: "I am as usual writing quicker than the clock ticks. I have been talking about V. Sackville West to a man called Wells--who is succeeding Crosby Gaige as publisher of pale green priceless editions. The desire of his heart is to publish a book by V. Sackville West. He read a copy of Seducers [Seducers in Ecuador, Sackville-West's novel] on the liner, and the title page was torn off. Being enchanted he went to the librarian, who said 'I'll look up the author's name in my catalogue' and then said 'By Virginia Woolf.' I had to disengage myself from his compliments. I said I would try to coax another Seducers, another Land [her epic poem] out of you" (Virginia Woolf, Letters, pp.2-3).
Despite mixed reviews, Woolf's novel was a best-seller, eventually selling 8,104 copies in England and 13,301 in the U.S. With Orlando, Woolf at last gained some financial success and security from her writing. Kirkpatrick A11.