Presented by Sammy Jay of Peter Harrington Rare Books.
Limited edition, one of 1,000 copies on art paper, this copy out of series, unnumbered, and presumably from the publisher’s own retained stock; there were another 100 copies on Japanese vellum. With an strongautograph letter signed from Oscar Wilde to the publisher, Leonard Smithers/strong, in its original stamped and franked envelope, postmark 13 January 1899, mounted on the front free endpaper. brWilde’s letter, addressed from the Hôtel des Bains, Napoule, on the sea near Cannes, thanks “My dear Smithers” for sending him Volpone “it is a very fine issue indeed”.
He thinks Beardsley’s work not quite his best but adds that “had he lived he would no doubt have done wonderful other illustrations.” He praises both the introduction and Robbie Ross’s eulogy, concluding teasingly: “The play is, I suppose, by you.” He requests copies of The Importance of Being Earnest, to be published by Smithers the following month: “20 ordinary 5 large paper and 1 vellum for me”.brBut his mind is no longer directed to literary work. “Yes: even at Napoule there is romance: it comes in boats: and takes the form of fisher-lads, who draw great nets, and are bare-limbed: they are strangely perfect: I was at Nice lately: Romance there is a profession plied beneath the moon.
“Ellman notes that Beardsley’s death at 25 years of age on 16 March 1898 was the first of several affecting Wilde which seemed to bring the Nineties to a doomed end.
UPDATE BOOK SOLD