“Let us go, then, exploring, this summer morning, when all are adoring the plum blossom and the bee.”
― Virginia Woolf, Orlando (Summer Catalogue, item 256) (SOLD)
Spanning almost three centuries, our Summer Catalogue brings together our most interesting recent acquisitions. From a collection of poems addressed to a prima ballerina to a record produced by the first African American record label, this selection of rare items is as charming as it is surprising.
Members of Peter Harrington staff have chosen their favourite items from the catalogue to share. To view the entire catalogue, please click here.
The Arabian Nights, Richard F. Burton, 1885–8
Perhaps the best-known translation of the collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian folk tales most often known as the One Thousand and One Nights or the Arabian Nights, Burton’s The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night was originally published in ten volumes, with six further volumes entitled The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night. Owing to the nature of their content and the strict Victorian laws on obscene material, these sixteen volumes were printed as private editions for subscribers only.
Burton’s translation has not lacked for both admirers and critics over the years, but his idiosyncratic style of translation is perhaps best summed up by Jorge Luis Borges in his essay on ‘The Translators of The Thousand and One Nights’: ‘In some way, the almost inexhaustible process of English is adumbrated in Burton – John Donne’s hard obscenity, the gigantic vocabularies of Shakespeare and Cyril Tourneur, Swinburne’s affinity for the archaic, the crass erudition of the authors of 17th century chapbooks, the energy and imprecision, the love of tempests and magic.’
First collected edition of Wilde’s works, limited to 1,000 sets on handmade paper. The texts were mostly taken from the last editions to be supervised by the author. Copyright in The Picture of Dorian Gray was held by Charles Carrington, so that volume alone appears with his Paris imprint. In 1922 Methuen announced the discovery of a new play by Wilde, For Love of the King: a Burmese Masque, and published it as a pendant volume to the original 14-volume set. The play was denounced by Wilde’s bibliographer Christopher Millard, and, although Methuen won a court case against him, the work is generally accepted to be a forgery by Mabel Wodehouse Pearse, née Cosgrove.
BOETHIUS., David Hume, Published: Antwerp Ex officina Plantiniana, Apud Ioannem Moretumm, 1607 – SOLD
A remarkable association copy, from the library of the Scottish philosopher David Hume, of one of the most notable works of western philosophy, this being the first Bernartius edition, with Hume’s bookplate (State A) to the front pastedown.
Hume was an enthusiastic reader of classical literature and a self-proclaimed Ciceronian too. In his autobiographical essay, published posthumously in 1777, Hume reported that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one he read “most of the celebrated Books in Latin, French, & English”, admitting that he was “secretly devouring” Virgil and Cicero when he should have been reading law. The influence of Cicero in particular pervades Hume’s work – his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion are modelled on Cicero’s De Natura Deorum, and the Essays on Happiness draw strongly on De Finibus – a fact which numerous commentators such as Peter S. Fosl, John Valdimir Price, and Humean editors Norman Kemp Smith and Martin Bell
An article by David Edmonds and John Eidinow outlining this extraordinary clash in more depth can be found here.
Often referred to as the first Englishwoman to become an historian, Macaulay wrote her History of England from the accession of James I to the elevation of the House of Hanover between 1763 and 1783. From being relatively unknown, the popularity of her History brought her almost overnight celebrity. The work was praised by William Pitt in the House of Commons, and Lord Lyttelton wrote that Macaulay was ‘a very prodigy’. Her republican ideals also brought her approval in America and she became acquainted with Benjamin Franklin, Josiah Quincy, Benjamin Rush, Richard Henry Lee, John Adams, Ezra Styles, and Jonathan Mayhew through her work.
The Making of the English Working Class, E. P. Thompson, 1963 – SOLD
A highly influential publication in English Social History from New Left historian E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class appeared in 1963. Thompson’s aim was to ‘rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the ‘obsolete’ hand-loom weaver, the ‘utopian’ artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity.’ (p. 12). This copy is a first edition, and a rare find in its original dust jacket.
First edition. The Brussels edition of Les Misérables takes precedence as the first published edition, as the first two volumes were issued in Brussels on 30 or 31 March 1862, preceding the Paris edition by four or five days. The remaining volumes appeared on 15 May 1862.
Copies in the original wrappers are rare in commerce. ABPC locates two copies only in the last 40 years, omitting the latest, that sold in Brussels at Henri Godts Auction, 11 December 2012, wrappers chipped in places, for 36,000.
The Heroycall Epistles of the learned poet Publius Ovidius Naso , Ovid, c. 1584 – BOOK SOLD
Ovid’s Epistulae Heroidum (Letters of Heroines) is a collection of fifteen poems written from the perspective of the heroines of Greek and Roman Tragedy, addressing their various lovers who have abandoned, betrayed and mistreated them.
The Heroides is thought to have had a significant influence on the work of Shakespeare, and this first English translation was likely the version he would have known. The rhetorical virtuosity of Ovid’s heroines can be traced in characters such as Katherina (The Taming of the Shrew) and Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing) and direct and indirect references to Ovid are to be found throughout his plays.
Published in New York in 1933, this copy is inscribed by the author just thirteen days after prohibition officially came to an end in America: ‘To Jacquline-or Jo, as we know her, this book is given for she is of that younger generation to whom this book is dedicated x. With the author;s best wishes Julien J. Prosakauer. Dec 18, 1933.’ Also inscribed are several uncommon cocktail recipe variations, including a ‘Queen Jocelyn’.
Pippi Långstrump, Astrid Lindgren, 1945-48 – SOLD
The first editions of the first three Pipi Longstocking novels, Pippi Långstrump; Pippi Långstrump går ombord; Pippi Långstrump i Söderhavet (1945-4), in the original Swedish. Originally told as stories to her daughter Karin, Lindgren later wrote the first manuscript during a convalescent period in 1944. After being rejected by the publisher she originally submitted it to, Lindgren revised the story and entered it into a children’s book competition run by relatively new publisher Rabén & Sjögren, which she won. It was then published with illustrations by Ingrid Vang Nyman in 1945.
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