The Ambassadors.New York & London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1904 Stock Code: 131659
Presentation copy memorialising his 1904-5 US tour, in the cloth dust jacketFirst US edition, second printing (dated a year after the first), presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, "For Mary Jameson Judah in remembrance of March 16th and 17th 1905. Henry James".
Mary Jameson Judah (1851-1930) was an accomplished hostess, giving dinners with monumental menus in both Memphis - where her husband John began a cotton business in 1897 - and Indianapolis, where they lived before and after. She was also a successful writer and a contributor to Harper's Magazine. In addition to James, her literary and artistic friends included Hamlin Garland, James Whitcomb Riley, William Dean Howells, Albert Kinross, Israel Zangwill (The Melting Pot), Meredith Nicholson, Booth Tarkington (to whom she was related by marriage), and T. C. Steele. It is likely that James and the Judahs crossed paths during his 1904-05 tour of the United States, when he stopped in Indianapolis while travelling cross-country to California, Oregon, and ultimately Washington. It was a trip he would recount soon after in The American Scene (published in book form in 1907), although his impressions of the Midwest and West were not included alongside his accounts of the East Coast, which covered Boston to Florida (apparently there these were slated for a second volume that never came to fruition).
Edel and Laurence note that this edition of The Ambassadors was "marked by a curious error which remained unobserved until attention to it was drawn by Robert E. Young in the November 1950 issue of American Literature - that is, almost half a century after the book's appearance". The American edition was set up from a separate set of proofs of the serialization in the North American Review, with approximately three and a half additional chapters which James had withheld to be inserted into the book. Young proved that Chapters XXVIII and XXIX had been reversed by some conscientious editor at Harper's with an eye peeled for the chronological inaccuracy seemingly presented by James's arrangement, which places a chapter set during an evening before one set during the preceding afternoon. Edel notes that the error was confined to the American edition and relates that "the error was perpetuated in the New York Edition, Scribner having set type from the American edition". Though James paid close attention to the revision of his earlier works in the New York Edition, several of the later works, such as The Ambassadors, were virtually ignored. James had hoped to set the English edition from the American proofs but, fortunately, as it turns out, Harper's took too long to supply these; James sent instead to Methuen a compilation of tear-sheets from the Review and carbon copy pages of text.
Octavo. Original blue paper-covered boards, spine lettered and ruled in gilt, top edge gilt. With the publisher's blue cloth dust jacket, spine identically lettered and ruled in gilt. Housed in a blue cloth flat-back box by the Chelsea Bindery.
With an autograph postcard, in German, signed by one "Mr Lachmann" and addressed to Fräulein Anna Schäferl at the home of Mrs John Judah in Indianapolis, postmarked 10 May 1905, laid in to the front. Spine lightly soiled and marked, ends, joints and corners worn with some small splits; jacket extremities worn and frayed, front spine joint partly split along verso but still very firm; in all an excellent copy.
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