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JOHNSON, Lionel.

The Art of Thomas Hardy.

With a Portrait etched from Life by William Strang and a Bibliography by John Lane.

Published: London: Elkin Mathews and John Lane, 1894

Stock code: 106719

Price: £225

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First and limited edition, one of 150 copies, the portrait signed by Strang. Presentation copy from the publisher John Lane, inscribed on the front free endpaper: “Henry Norman from his friend John Lane” and adding the “Aldine leaf” device in ink (printed also on the title page). The recipient is almost certainly Sir Henry Norman (knighted 1906), journalist and politician, who was well connected with many leading literary figures, travelled widely and wrote of his experiences (The Real Japan, 1892; The Peoples and Politics of the Far East, 1895; All the Russias, 1904). This is the first book devoted to Hardy’s writing, Lionel Johnson’s first book, and “the first seriously to consider the writing of novels as an art” (ODNB). Scarce.

Square octavo. Original blue-grey boards, paper spine label, top edge grey, others uncut. Etched portrait frontispiece of Hardy by Strang; title page printed in red & black. Neat publisher’s bookplate declaring: “This Book is now Published by John Lane”. Spine toned and a little creased, head of spine chipped, a little wear to corners. An excellent survival: uncut in original boards as issued.

Bibliography: CBEL 3 985.

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