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By Henry James (1886)
First Edition, First Printing, "one volume" edition
DESCRIPTION: Victorian American Henry James is considered one of the founders of the "Realism" movement in literature, an attempt to tell stories in a much more direct, stripped-down and emotionally honest way than the genteel flowery style so prevalent at the time; and after a series of early novels which explored the complex relationship that rich, cultured American families had at the time with the European society which validated them, in 1885 James got to work on The Bostonians, a scandalous look at the "New Woman" or "Suffragette" early feminist movement that was gaining speed in these years. (How scandalous? Well, the relationship between the two main female characters here actually inspired the once famous term "Boston Marriage" to refer to lesbian relationships; and most Americans found James' portrait of Boston high society here so unfair that even Mark Twain said he'd "rather be damned to John Bunyan's heaven" than to read the book.)
The Bostonians was first published serially in The Century Magazine in 1885 and '86, with a three-volume, 500-copy book edition published soon afterwards (worth tens of thousands of dollars if you can even find one for sale anymore); this particular copy is a first edition of the one-volume version, released just a month after the three-volume one, with a first printing of only 5,000 copies. (Note that of these 5,000 copies, 3,000 were printed with salmon covers and with interior ads, designed for American distribution; this copy is one of the 2,000 with blue covers without ads designed for domestic UK sales by the British Macmillan & Co.) This is also an ASSOCIATION COPY, with an ex-libris sticker in the front cover from former Library of Congress senior executive George Heron Milne, a family friend of the Theodore Roosevelts who was the supervisor of the Congressional Reading Room during the years of World War Two.
CONDITION: Text: Good (G). There are a number of problems with this copy, which is why it's being sold at a relatively inexpensive price (copies in Fine condition go for almost three times as much): cracks on the inside and outside of both hinges, rubbed corners, a large tear on the inside back endpaper, although with clean unfoxed pages and a tight binding. (See photos for more.) Issued without a dust jacket. Along with the ex-libris sticker on the inside front cover, there are also two signatures in ink (on the inside endpaper and the half-title page) stating "Rose Bradbelt, Washington, 1895." As confirmed by the McBride Guide to the Identification of First Editions, a date agreement of "1886" on both the title page and copyright page, plus lack of further printing notices, makes this a first edition, first printing.
PROVENANCE: Acquired by CCLaP at O'Gara and Wilson Booksellers, Chicago, July 2013.