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The Letters of Lords Nelson to Lady Hamilton;

with a Supplement of Interesting Letters by Distinguished Characters.

Published: London: Thomas Lovewell & Co., 1814

Stock code: 87923

Price: £1,500

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This item is on show at 43 Dover Street (map)

First edition. Uncommon, and controversial, collection, purportedly – rather ineffectually – suppressed. J.K. Laughton suggested that James Harrison, whose early biography (The Life … 1806) was primed and carefully overseen by Emma Hamilton, was responsible for the publication of these letters “after he had stolen them from her” (NMM). John Wilson Croker, secretary to the Admiralty, reviewed the publication anonymously in the Quarterly Review, expressing the view that; “The fame of Lord Nelson is, as his life and services were, public property; and we absolutely deny the right to which any unworthy possessor of a few of his private notes may pretend, to invade … that public property, and lower the reputation of the hero and his country” (1814, p. 73), concluding that the letters were in fact forgeries. But in 1817, when Lovewell declared bankruptcy “and Nelson’s letters to Emma were put up for auction, together with other papers still in his possession. Croker moved quickly to purchase them privately, and kept the fact hidden, seeing no reason to parade Nelson’s weakness in public” (Lambert, Nelson: Britannia’s God of War, p. 5).

2 volumes octavo (207 129 mm) Later blue half morocco, linen boards, by Rivière & Son, title gilt direct to the spine, raised bands, lozenges gilt to compartments, single gilt rule to the spine and corner edges, top edge gilt, marbled endpapers Lightly rubbed at the extremities, mild tan-burn to the free endpapers, light browning, but overall a handsomely bound, wide-margined copy, in very good order.

Bibliography: NMM, II, 1008.

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