Charlotte. A Tale of Truth.

"The first American bestseller": Exceedingly Rare first edition of Susanna Haswell Rowson's Charlotte: A Tale of Truth

Charlotte. A Tale of Truth.

ROWSON, Susanna Haswell.


Item Number: 125183

Philadelphia: Printed by D. Humphreys for M. Carey, 1794.

Exceedingly rare first American edition (and the earliest obtainable example) of the first American bestseller. Octavo, two volumes bound into one in three quarter calf over marbled boards, morocco spine label lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers. Although it was preceded by the first English edition published in 1791, no examples of the first English edition have been traced at auction. In very good condition. Bookplate to the pastedown, bibliographic description tipped in. Housed in a custom cloth chemise and half morocco clamshell slipcase. Exceedingly rare with only one other example of the first American edition traced at auction in the last 75 years.

Susana Rowson's best-selling novel, Charlotte, relates the tale of 15-year-old English schoolgirl Charlotte Temple, who is lured away from her prestigious boarding school by British army officer, John Montraville. While en route to New York, Montraville seduces Charlotte, who he swiftly abandons upon arrival to his post, and after a downward spiral into remorse, illness, poverty, and the birth of a child, she dies. Seduction novels were popular in the 18th century, and the widely read Charlotte Temple went through more than 200 editions. Rowson, a committed republican, used the success of the novel to protest the sexual double standard that ruined the lives of women like Charlotte. Later in life, she wrote a sequel that was published posthumously.

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