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CONRAD, Joseph.

Six of his major titles, each one inscribed to his friend and fellow author H. G. Wells.

Various places, and publishers, 1900-11 Stock Code: 136918

The record of a literary friendship

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First editions, presentation copies, each inscribed by the author to his friend and fellow author H. G. Wells; an exceptional association set, a run of books from the major phase of his career showing Conrad at the peak of his powers, and spanning the years of their mutual friendship.
Before the two writers had met, Wells had publicly greeted An Outcast of the Islands as perhaps "the finest piece of fiction that has been published this year" (1896), and had spoken similarly highly of its predecessor Almayer's Folly. In 1898 the two men were neighbours on the Kent coast and became friends.
Conrad's famous novella "The Heart of Darkness" (printed here in Youth) was conceived around this time, and betrays several signs of Wells's influence. On 25 November 1898 Conrad had asked to borrow the author's copy of The Invisible Man (1897): "Like Griffin, Kurtz sets out with idealistic intentions, only to be corrupted by power and isolation" (Dryden, "The Difference between Us").
The War of the Worlds had also made a strong impression. Thinking of what may lie in the centre of Africa, Marlowe says that "I believed it in the same way one of you might believe in habitants on the planet Mars. I knew once a Scotch sailmaker who was certain, dead sure, there were people in Mars. If you asked him for some ideas how they looked and behaved he would get shy and mutter something about 'walking on all fours'" (p. 93). "By invoking an alien planet and its supposed inhabitants, Conrad, through Marlow, emphasises the very 'otherness' of Africa for his contemporary readers: it was as alien an environment as far off Mars, and Kurtz, squatting at its centre, seems as unknowable as an alien being" (Dryden, A Literary Friendship).
Wells was sufficiently impressed by "The Heart of Darkness" to include it - along with Henry James's "The Madonna of the Future" - in a library in "When the Sleeper Wakes" (1899), his story set 203 years in the future, at a time when his contemporary readers could only have known Conrad's story from serialization in Blackwood's.
Wells continued to read Conrad with interest, but preferred his short-form fiction. In 1904, he wrote to Morley Roberts: "What do you think of Conrad? I began the chorus of praise ten sic years ago, but I'm cooling off considerable. Short stories is his game. Nostromo is desiccated sic conglomerate" (Correspondence 58). The presentation copy of Nostromo here appears unread.
Yet in September 1906 he wrote enthusiastically to Conrad about The Mirror of the Sea: "I've been reading first in and then through from beginning to end your delightful (it's the right word) talks of seas and winds and ships. It's talk, good talk full of the wonderful calm, a quality that never deserts you. A fine book the sea under my eyes most wonderfully. I shall for all my life be the wiser for it" (Stape & Knowles, eds., A Portrait in Letters: Correspondence to and about Conrad, 53).
The individual titles are:
i) CONRAD, Joseph. Lord Jim. A Tale. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1900
Octavo. Original light green smooth cloth lettered in gilt on spine and in black on front cover. First edition, presentation copy inscribed by the author to his friend and fellow author H. G. Wells ("To H. G. Wells, Affectionately, from Joseph. Conrad") on front free endpaper. Cagle A5a(1); Connolly 100; Keating 25; Smith 5; Wise 7.
ii) Youth: A Narrative and two other stories. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1902
Octavo. Original blue-green cloth lettered in gilt on spine and lettered and decorated in black on front cover. First edition, presentation copy inscribed "To H G Wells, affectionately, from Joseph Conrad". Cagle A7a(1); Keating 34; Smith 8; Wise 10.
iii) Typhoon And Other Stories. London: William Heinemann, 1903
Octavo. Original dark blue cloth lettered in gilt on spine and lettered within a gilt device on front cover. First English edition, presentation copy inscribed "To H. G. Wells, affectionately, from Joseph Conrad 1903." The London edition adds three tales not included in the 1902 New York edition. Cagle A8b(1); Keating 42; Smith 9; Wise 13.
iv) Nostromo a tale of the seaboard. London & New York: Harper & Brothers, 1904
Octavo. Original dark blue cloth lettered and decorated in light blue, spine titled in gilt. First edition (page 187 misnumbered 871), presentation copy inscribed "To H. G. Wells, with affectionate regard, Joseph Conrad, Oct 1904." Cagle A10a(1); Wise 15.
v) The Mirror of the Sea, memories and impressions. London: Methuen & Co., 1906
Octavo. Original green cloth (Cagle binding A), spine lettered and decoratively stamped in gilt, top edge gilt, 40pp. publisher's catalogue dated August 1906. First edition, first impression, presentation copy inscribed "To H. G. Wells, affectionately from, Jo. Conrad. 1906." Cagle A11a; Keating 67; Smith 12; Wise 16.
vi) Under Western Eyes. London: Methuen & Co., Ltd, 1911
Octavo. Original red cloth, spine lettered and decoratively stamped in gilt. First edition, later issue (September ads), presentation copy inscribed "To H. G. Wells, with affection, from J.C. 1911." Cagle A14a(1).

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Together 6 separately-published works, octavo. Original cloth, as described below. Housed in individual custom morocco-backed slipcases and chemises.


Lord Jim: spine darkened, some bubbling to cloth, foxing, good. Youth: spine darkened and with small ink splash, some foxing, very good. Typhoon: cloth bright but slight bubbling, front inner hinge cracked, very good. Nostromo: fine. Mirror of the Sea: gilt rubbed at foot of spine, front inner hinge cracked, light scattered foxing, very good. Under Western Eyes: spine a little darkened, else fine.


Linda Dryden, "H. G. Wells and Joseph Conrad: A Literary Friendship", The Wellsian, 28 (2005); & "'The Difference between Us': Conrad, Wells, and the English Novel", Studies in the Novel, summer 2013.


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