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[STEPHENS, John Lloyd.]

Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land.

By an American.

New York: Harper & Brothers, 1837 Stock Code: 139468
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Presentation copy from "the person who had been in Stony Arabia"

First edition, presentation copy from the author, inscribed on the front free endpaper, "Francis illegible Grant from his friend the author", part of the inscription blotted out, apparently correcting the first names of the recipient.

John Lloyd Stephens (1805-1852), along with Frederick Catherwood, is best known as one of the pioneers of Mayan archaeology. Incidents of Travel in Egypt was his first book and became an instant bestseller, establishing his reputation as "the greatest travel writer of his day" (American National Biography). Edgar Allan Poe wrote a long, enthusiastic review in the New York Review and Herman Melville mentioned Stephens in his novel Redburn (1849): "I very well remembered staring at a man who was pointed out to me by my aunt one Sunday in Church, as the person who had been in Stony Arabia, and passed through strange adventures there all of which with my own eyes I had read in the book which he wrote". ANB goes on to note that "Stephens's popularity is attributed to his mix of erudition and a lively, personal style as well as the great public interest in travel writing".

On his way back to the United States from a journey through Russia, and while waiting to board ship at Paris, Stephens "read Leon de Laborde's Voyage de l'Arabie Petrée, published in 1830, which depicted the ruined cliff city of Petra in what is now Jordan. Inspired, Stephens changed his plans and journeyed up the Nile to Cairo and the pyramids, an established tourist route. However, Stephens left this beaten path to cross the Arabian Desert under the guidance of bedouins to Petraea and on to the Holy Land" (ibid.).

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2 volumes, octavo. Original green sand-grain cloth gilt lettered spines, sides and spines with embossed scrolling decoration.


Line-engraved frontispieces and 16 similar plates by Stephen Henry Gimber after Alexander Anderson, folding map.


Spines lightly sunned, a little wear to heads of spines and corners, fore-edge of covers bumped, scattered foxing, yet this remains an appealing copy in the attractive original cloth, with the publisher's 24-page catalogue (printed on yellow paper) at the end of vol. I.


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