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In Four Volumes.

Published: London: for A. Millar, 1752

Stock code: 90453

Price: £2,750

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First edition of Fielding’s last novel, published 19 December 1751: though primarily the story of a troubled marriage, Amelia may also be considered the first novel of social protest and reform in English. Fielding also showed interest in the debate on female intelligence and education in the novel, through the prodigious Virgil-quoting figure of Mrs Atkinson. Another theme of the novel is the extortionary practices of prison keepers, and its influence is particularly strong on the great novels of Dickens’s middle period, Bleak House and Little Dorrit. Millar ordered William Strahan to print the work on two of his printing presses in order to produce a total of 5,000 copies for the first run of the work. Rothschild claims that there were two impressions, one in December 1751, the second in January 1752, but this seems to be a confusion with the second edition of 3,000 copies which Millar ordered to follow on the heels of the first but subsequently cancelled. Sets in this excellent condition are not common. From the library of American composer of musical theatre and rare book collector Jerome Kern with his book label to each front pastedown.

4 volumes, duodecimo (166 x 98 mm). Contemporary tree calf, twin red and black morocco labels, raised bands, spines elaborately gilt in compartments, single gilt rule to boards, inner dentelles gilt, marbled endpapers. Housed in a brown morocco box lettered in gilt and with a cloth jacket for each volume. A little rubbing to extremities, few small single wormholes to the spines, toning to endleaves, occasional faint spot and light offsetting. An excellent set.

Bibliography: Cross III, p. 321; Rothschild 853.

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