From Darwin to Dalloway, our Spring 2016 Catalog offers an excellent collection of fine and rare books. In this collection, you’ll find landmark works in topics such as classic literature, children’s literature, sciences, travel, politics, and more. Some of these works include a rare, signed portrait of Charles Dickens and an extremely rare presentation copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Here are five highlights you don’t want to miss!
1. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen wrote her second novel, Pride and Prejudice, between the years of 1796 and 1797, when she was not yet 21 years old. Remarkably, however, Austen had a difficult time getting the novel published. In November of 1797, Austen’s father sent the book to prominent London bookseller, Thomas Cadell, who rejected the novel without even reading it. By 1812, Austen’s novel was finally bought by Egerton in 1812 for £110. It was published in late January 1813 in a small edition of approximately 1500 copies and sold for 18 shillings in boards. Volume I of the first edition was printed by Roworth and Volumes II and III by Sidney, and their imprints appear both on the versos of the half titles and at the end of the text of each volume.
Bound in full 19th century calf and in very good condition, the first edition of Pride and Prejudice is available in all 3 of the original volumes.
2. Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Samuel Clemens, better known by his pseudonym Mark Twain, created an American literary masterpiece that would be shared for endless generations when he wrote the story of Tom Sawyer’s comrade, Huck Finn. Originally envisioning a story that would follow Huckleberry Finn’s progression into adulthood, Twain worked on the novels for years and eventually lost interest in its completion. After a trip down the Hudson river, however, Twain picked up writing where he left off and in 1883, finally completed his landmark work in ‘dialect writing,’ Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This first edition rare book also includes a laid in illustration by E.W. Kemble.
Ernest Hemingway praised the book as the greatest piece of American literature, declaring:
All modern literature comes from one book by Mark Twain. It’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing since.
3. Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead
As a previous published novelist with new, slightly controversial ideas expressed in her writing, Ayn Rand initially had a difficult time finding the publisher she thought right for The Fountainhead. She let Macmillian Publishing go when they rejected her demand for better publicity, and when her agent criticized the novel, she fired him and handled submissions herself. After sifting through eleven more publishers, Rand finally released The Fountainhead with Bobbs-Merrill Company in 1943. The novel was met with great reception, becoming a bestseller within two years of its publication.
The protagonist of the book, thought to be inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a young architect fighting against convention. The entire premise of the book argues that individualism is better than collectivism, valuing the importance of selfishness, which Rand rewords as “ethical egoism.” An excellent copy of the first edition, first issue of The Fountainhead is available in its original red cloth and includes an inscription by the author.
4. First American Edition of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway
Published in May of 1925, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway tackles bold themes of the time, including feminism and mental illness. Known for its seemingly disconnected narrative, non-linear structure, and interior perspective, the novel was actually suspected to have been modeled after James Joyce’s Ulysses. The story details the life of Clarissa Dalloway in a single day as she prepares for her party that evening. Set in a post-First World War high society, the plot also jumps between various characters in the community, including a traumatized veteran of the war and his wife. Though it doesn’t seem clear how the characters are connected throughout the book, it eventually comes together in a “new and delicate harmony.”
The book was created from two short stories that Woolf had written previously: “Mrs Dalloway in Bond Street” and the unfinished “The Prime Minister.” The first edition of Mrs. Dalloway is available in the rare original dust jacket, one of the nicest examples of this book we’ve seen.
5. First British Edition of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
When To Kill A Mockingbird was published in 1960, it was with warnings from Harper Lee’s publisher that the book would not sell well. Despite these warnings, the book was an instant success and remains a staple of American Literature to this day. Set in the Deep South, the story tackles heavy topics such as rape and racial injustice, and yet is widely loved for its humor and candid charm. One year after its publication, To Kill A Mockingbird won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It remained Harper Lee’s only book until her publication of Go Set A Watchman, published one year ago in July of 2015 and written as an original draft of To Kill A Mockingbird.
Since Harper Lee’s death in February of 2016, the first British edition of this beloved classic is extremely rare with its warm inscription from the author on the end cover.
Browse the rest of our 2016 Spring Catalog to learn more about the critically-acclaimed rare books, signed drawings and photographs, and other major contributions to American literature.