WILLIAMS, Helen Maria (trans.); SAINT-PIERRE, Jacques-Henri Bernardin de.

Paul and Virginia.

Translated from the French... by Helen Maria Williams, author of Letters on the French Revolution, Julia: a novel, Poems, etc.

London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1795 Stock Code: 127769
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Translated by the bluestocking Helen Maria Williams

First edition in English, translated by the celebrated bluestocking Helen Maria Williams (1759-1827) "amidst the horrors of Robespierre's tyranny", as she explains colourfully in her Preface; it became "the standard English edition well into the nineteenth century" (Deborah Kennedy, Helen Maria Williams and the Age of Revolution, 2002, p. 122). The circumstances under which Williams completed her translation were trying to say the least, "she was subject to frequent house searches, and on several occasions had parts of the translation and other papers seized and taken to 'the Municipality of Paris, in order to be examined as English papers; where they still remain, mingled with revolutionary placards, motions, and harangues; and are not likely to be restored to my possession'" (ibid.). There is another edition of the same year with no imprint but almost certainly issued by the radical and printer John Hurford Stone (1763-1818), with whom Williams was involved. This was illustrated with six plates.

This very appealing copy, in a delightfully plain and unsophisticated trade binding, bears the Parisian bookseller's ticket of Théophile Barrois, whose "bookshop's fame increased over the years and it was, by the turn of the nineteenth century, one of the best-stocked outlets of foreign literature, particularly English, German and Spanish" (Nicolás Bas Martin, A View from Abroad: Spanish Books in the Europe of the Enlightenment (Paris and London), 2018, p. 60). Decidedly uncommon: Library Hub cites copies at just three British and Irish institutional libraries (BL, Oxford, Scotland); WorldCat adds another 11 institutions internationally (all but one, at BnF, in the United States).

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Duodecimo (164 x 94 mm). Contemporary roan-backed pinkish paper boards, smooth spine gilt banded with double rules, lettered direct, speckled edges.


Ownership inscription of "Minna Goldenberg, 1812". Spine a little rubbed, some wear to corners (one more extensively), scattered foxing, closed-tear across G2-5 (with no loss), yet a very nice copy.


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