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The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling.

In Six Volumes.

London: for A. Millar, 1749 Stock Code: 121201
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First edition of the work that "established the tradition of the comic novel in English"

First edition of Fielding's masterpiece and one of the great novels of the 18th century, which, along with Joseph Andrews, "established the tradition of the comic novel in English" (ODNB); with all the points to distinguish it from the virtually identical reprint of the same year: vol. I: errata leaf after contents, B9 & B10 are cancels, both signed "vol. I"; vol. II: B4 & B5 are cancels, both signed "vol. II"; vol. III: H8, H9, H10, M3, and Q11 are cancels; vol. V: N8 is a cancel, signed 'Vol. V'; vol. VI: B5 is unsigned.

"In June 1748 Millar advanced Fielding 600 on Tom Jones, and by September Thomas Birch reported that three of the six volumes of Fielding's masterpiece were printed... But business and a severe attack of gout prevented him from finishing the work speedily, and public impatience to read it grew to such a pitch that the entire first edition of 2000 copies was bought up before the announced date of publication, 10 February 1749. Three further editions would be printed by September, bringing the total number of copies to 10,000, a figure attesting to the novel's great popularity" (ibid.).

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6 volumes, duodecimo (163 x 95 mm). Contemporary speckled calf professionally refurbished and rebacked to style, two-line gilt border on sides.


With 19th-century armorial bookplates of G. W. Ormerod (vol. I) and J. A. Ormerod (vol. V): George Wareing (1810-1891, geologist) and his brother Joseph Arderne (1848-1925, physician); 18th-century ownership inscriptions to head of title pages, pencil inscription to final page of vol. VI (dated 1830). Lower fore corner of F2 (pp. 87-8) in vol. III torn away (not affecting letterpress), touch of foxing in places. A very good clean set.


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