ASH RARE BOOKS – ANTIQUARIAN RARE AND FINE BOOKS – FIRST EDITIONS – ANTIQUE MAPS AND PRINTS
ASH RARE BOOKS
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BANVILLE, John (William John), 1945- : NIGHTSPAWN.
London : Secker & Warburg, (1971). First edition. Signed by multiple award-winning John Banville on the title-page — loosely inserted is a 2008 ticket for “An Evening with John Banville”, the occasion on when the book was signed. Night Spawn, Night’s Pawn, Knight’s Pawn — his sometimes disavowed first novel, a fantasy political thriller of sorts set on a Greek island and then in Athens — “crotchety, posturing, absurdly pretentious”, in his own words, but for at least one online commentator, “I am left stunned. I think I have been bludgeoned by beauty”.
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[COOPER, James Fenimore, 1789-1851] : THE WATER WITCH; OR, THE SKIMMER OF THE SEAS.
London : Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830. First British edition. Alida de Barbérie is abducted by pirates – the brigantine “Water Witch” is pursued by Captain Ludlow. Set in and around the still half-Dutch New York of the early eighteenth century – the press was unanimous: “the mystery of the story, and the life and spirit of his characters, have, indeed, seldom been equalled, and is nowhere surpassed” (Morning Chronicle) – “Cooper, the American novelist, has no living superior” (The Scotsman). Precedes the American edition by two months, although a slightly earlier edition improbably published in Dresden is known in a handful of copies.
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[DOUGLAS, Norman (George Norman), 1868-1952] – “NORMYX” : UNPROFESSIONAL TALES.
London : T. Fisher Unwin, 1901. First edition. Beyond the early pamphlets and offprints, Douglas’s first book and his first venture into fiction. He later claimed that just eight copies were sold – a slight exaggeration, but close on 600 copies of the original 750 were still unsold in 1903 and almost certainly pulped. Contains fifteen short stories (including “Elfwater”, “Nocturne”, “The Devil’s Oak”, and “Belladonna”) as well as the fantasy femme fatale novella “Nerinda”, most of the former written in collaboration with his then wife, Elsa Fitzgibbon (1876-1916).
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GASKELL, E.C. (Elizabeth Cleghorn), 1810-1865 : THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTË, AUTHOR OF “JANE EYRE”, “SHIRLEY”, “VILLETTE”, &C.
London : Smith, Elder & Co., 1857. First edition. A delightfully extra-illustrated and beautifully bound copy of this still controversial biography of Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) – “revolution as well as revelation” in Margaret Oliphant’s phrase. Unsold copies were withdrawn in the face of a storm of legal threat and hostility. Extra-illustrated by the insertion of forty additional plates, portraits and views, a number hand-coloured, as are the original frontispiece portrait and view of Haworth.
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[GREIG, John] : THE ANTIQUARIAN ITINERARY, COMPRISING SPECIMENS OF ARCHITECTURE, MONASTIC, CASTELLATED, AND DOMESTIC; WITH OTHER VESTIGES OF ANTIQUITY IN GREAT BRITAIN. ACCOMPANIED WITH DESCRIPTIONS.
London : for the Proprietors, by William Clarke; J. Murray; S. Bagster [and others], 1815-1818. First edition. A charming compilation, originally published in monthly parts, bringing images and descriptions of out of the way architecture and antiquities throughout England, Wales and Scotland. The images, many of them the earliest known of the various towns, buildings and architectural features, were supplied by an array of local and travelling artists, including principally John Hassell, George Arnald, Frederick Wilton Litchfield Stockdale, Luke Clennell and William Deeble – the plates engraved by Greig himself, some from his own designs, as well as Thomas Higham, Edward John Roberts, William Wallis, John Charles Varrall, Deeble himself and numerous others. Although generally ascribed to Greig’s former partner, the artist and engraver James Sargant Storer, Storer was by now working with his son on other projects – his name appears nowhere in the credits and the work would appear undoubtedly to be Greig’s, he himself engraving around one third of the plates. The engraved plates are supplemented by hundreds of anonymous but exquisitely worked head and tailpieces giving further detail.
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HARDY, Thomas, 1840-1928 : TWO ON A TOWER. A ROMANCE.
London : Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1882. First edition : one of 1,000 copies of the first issue text, before the corrections made for the virtually identical second impression. One of Hardy’s most original, interesting and controversial novels – a Wessex tale of star-crossed lovers in which he aimed “to make science, not the mere padding of a romance, but the actual vehicle of romance” – “We have known military novels, sporting and dramatic novels, law and police novels, but an astronomical novel never ... The author, in fact, has imagined and described a woman with whom few of his male readers will not fall in love” (contemporary review in The Athenaeum).
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JAMES, Henry, 1843-1916 : THE AWKWARD AGE.
London : William Heinemann, 1899. First edition : [one of 2,000 copies]. Eighteen-year-old Nanda enters the decadent fin-de-siècle marriage market – “We begin by being afraid that we shall not understand enough, we end by fearing that we may understand too much ... It is a strong book, but there is one thing greater than its strength, and that is its audacity” (Morning Post, 29th June 1899). A copy from the library of Sir Stephen Spender (1909-1995). Spender’s “The Destructive Element” (1935) remains one of the most interesting and influential studies of James and his contemporaries.
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JEFFERIES, Richard (John Richard), 1848-1887 : BEVIS : THE STORY OF A BOY.
London : Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1882. First edition : in the variant green (a) binding – Miller & Matthews (B15) make a persuasive case for regarding these slightly taller copies in green as having appeared earlier than the regular copies in brown. Jefferies and his haunting evocation of a Wiltshire childhood – “where there was magic in everything, blades of grass and stars, the sun and the stones upon the ground”.
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JONES, Barbara (Barbara Mildred), 1912-1978 : DESIGN FOR DEATH.
London : André Deutsch, (1967). First edition. An extraordinary study – part grim, part comic – of the “beautiful, vulgar, frightening and propitiatory things that people make when confronted by that shocking and unwelcome reminder, the death of another”. With chapters on the corpse; the shroud; the coffin; the hearse; the floral tributes; printing and the word; the procession; the cemetery and the crematorium; the tomb; relics and mementoes, etc.
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LAMB, Charles, 1775-1834 : SPECIMENS OF ENGLISH DRAMATIC POETS, WHO LIVED ABOUT THE TIME OF SHAKESPEARE : WITH NOTES.
London : for Longman, Hurst, Rees & Orme, 1808. First edition. Lamb’s hugely influential rediscovery of the Elizabethans and Jacobeans, many of the specimens of their work culled from “plays which are to be found only in the British Museum and in some scarce private libraries” – Francis Beaumont, George Chapman, Thomas Decker, John Fletcher, John Ford, Fulke Greville, Ben Jonson, Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, John Marston, Philip Massinger, Thomas Middleton, George Peele, Cyril Tourneur, John Webster, and many more – “the most striking anthology perhaps ever made from English literature” (Edmund Blunden).
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LEWIS, C.S. (Clive Staples), 1898-1963 : THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW.
London : John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1955. First edition. The sixth instalment of “The Chronicles of Narnia”, taking us back to “the dawn of Narnian time and the day when the Beasts first talked, which was also the first day when people from our world first went to Narnia. It all happened because Diggory’s wicked uncle, who was a magician, sent him to the Wood Between the Worlds”.
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MARRYAT, Frederick, 1792-1848 : THE TRAVELS AND ROMANTIC ADVENTURES OF MONSIEUR VIOLET, AMONG THE SNAKE INDIANS AND WILD TRIBES OF THE WESTERN PRAIRIES.
London : Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1843. First edition : the second issue, with the variant title. “A vigorous, dashing sketch of the prairies of California, the wildernesses of the Rocky Mountains, and the swamps of Texas” (Court Journal). Originally issued a little earlier as “Narrative of the Travels and Adventures of Monsieur Violet in California, Sonora and Western Texas”, Sadleir suggests that the book was relaunched with a more exciting title specifically for the gift-books for boys market. Scarce in either incarnation, Marryat’s novel, full of factual information drawn from (unacknowledged) contemporary sources and his own visit to the Americas, is perhaps the earliest children’s book with an American Wild West setting. It is certainly the first work of fiction to contain Mormon characters and remains an important source of information on the pre Gold Rush California of the 1830s.
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MAUGHAM, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965 : THE PAINTED VEIL.
New York : George H. Doran Co., (1925). First edition. Published a month earlier than the London edition and retaining a textual integrity which the British publication did not – two separate libel actions having necessitated changes in the names of characters in the latter, as well as the substitution of the fictional place-names of Tching-Yen, Pleasant Vale, and The Mount, for the real places of Hong Kong, Happy Valley, and The Peak. “Like many other of Mr. Maugham’s stories, the scene of his latest – and best – book is laid ‘East of Suez’. The theme, a loveless marriage and its disastrous aftermath, though old as the hills, is invested with modernity and freshness by means of a photographic realism” (Nottingham Journal, 21st May 1925). Filmed in 1934 (Greta Garbo), and in 2006 (Naomi Watts).
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NIN, Anaïs, 1903-1977 : THIS HUNGER – .
New York : Gemor Press, (1945). First edition. “The unveiling of women is a delicate matter. It will not happen overnight. We are all afraid of what we shall find”. One of 1,000 copies of the regular edition, illustrated with five woodcuts by “Ian Hugo” – Nin’s husband Hugh Parker Guiler (1898-1985). This copy signed by Nin and amicably inscribed to Raymond Daum – “Hoping we may collaborate!” – Raymond Witham Daum (1923-2003), cameraman and archivist, perhaps best-known for his “Walking with Garbo” (1991). His archive documenting his friendships with Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo and other well-known figures is now housed at the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
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PALGRAVE, Francis Turner, 1824-1897 – editor : THE GOLDEN TREASURY OF THE BEST SONGS AND LYRICAL POEMS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
Cambridge : Macmillan & Co., 1861. First edition : one of the 2,000 copies of the first impression, with the roman rather than gothic half-title, just four notes on p.323, etc. The original appearance of a perennial favourite – close on 300 of the finest poems in the language from seventy-five or so poets – from Sir Thomas Wyatt, Marlowe and Shakespeare, to Shelley and Keats. With a preface and some extensive notes by Palgrave.
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PATER, Walter (Walter Horatio), 1839-1894 : MARIUS THE EPICUREAN : HIS SENSATIONS AND IDEAS.
London : Macmillan & Co., 1885. First edition. The great stylist’s philosophical novel of ancient Rome – the young Marius, secretary to the stoic Marcus Aurelius, pursues integrity and the aesthetic life. One of the most remarkable novels of the period, stretching the boundaries of fiction, and exploring questions of morality, religion, philosophy and gender. A key text of the modern movement, influencing authors as diverse as Hardy, Joyce, Wilde and Woolf. “We consciously looked to Pater for our philosophy” (W. B. Yeats).
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PHILLIPS, Hugh, 1886-1972 : MID-GEORGIAN LONDON : A TOPOGRAPHICAL AND SOCIAL SURVEY OF CENTRAL AND WESTERN LONDON ABOUT 1750.
London : Colllins, 1964. First edition. The culmination of Phillips’ extraordinary thirty-year trawl through the parish rate books, the land register, the crown lease book, the licensing records, the insurance documents and the early poll books – building up to more or less a house-by-house reconstruction of large parts of the eighteenth century West End – Berkeley Square, Cavendish Square, Charing Cross, Covent Garden, Hanover Square, Holborn, Leicester Square, Red Lion Square, St. James, St. Martin’s Lane, Soho Square, the Strand, etc.
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“RÉNIN, Paul” – [GOYNE, Richard, 1902-1957] : THE STREET OF MANY SHADOWS.
London : Federation Press, . First edition : with a copyright date of 1924 and issued from the publishers’ pre-1925 Fetter Lane address. “A story of love that came too late to a woman of sin” – a tale also commencing with two contrasting impoverished writers on Fleet Street. With a 3pp authorial preface quoting from Omar Khayyam omitted in later editions.
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“SARTO, Ben” : TOO BAD FOR SUSIE.
[Leicester] : Hermitage Publications, . First edition. Susie escapes from the white slave traffic of Soho, but Detective Officer Maurice, Special Branch, tracks her down via an aunt in Edgbaston to an estate agent’ s office in Birmingham. It is a question of murder. “Ben Sarto” was the regular pseudonym of Frank Dubrez Fawcett (1891-1968), but it is not at all clear whether the four extremely rare Sarto titles published by Hermitage in 1947-1948 and distributed by Thorpe & Porter were actually by him.
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SHAKESPEARE, William, 1564-1616 : THE PICTORIAL EDITION OF THE WORKS OF SHAKSPERE.
London : Charles Knight & Co., [1838-1843]. The first Charles Knight edition. Comprises two volumes each of the comedies, histories and tragedies, as well as the poems, a volume of seventeen doubtful plays sometimes ascribed to Shakespeare (or Shakspere, as Knight insists on having it), together with commendatory verses, a history of critical opinion, material on Shakespeare in Germany, indexes, and a final volume of Knight’s full-length biography. All furnished with introductory notices, notes, variant readings, a glossary, music to the songs, etc. – and profusely illustrated throughout by the leading wood-engravers of the day from the designs of William Harvey (1796-1866) and others. Using the latest technology, Charles Knight (1791-1873) was in the vanguard of bringing the price of books within everyday reach and bringing education and edification in their train with the use of copious illustration – here insisting on illustrations of “the realities upon which the imagination of the poet must have rested ... the localities ... the portraits of the real personages ... accurate costume in all its rich variety”.
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THORNBURY, Walter, 1828-1876 : HAUNTED LONDON.
London : Hurst & Blackett, 1865. First edition. “This book deals not so much with the London of the ghost-stories ... as with the London consecrated by manifold traditions – a city every street and alley of which teems with interesting associations, every paving-stone of which marks, as it were, the abiding-place of some ancient legend or biographical story; in short this London of the present haunted by the memories of the past”. With separate chapters on Charing Cross, Drury Lane, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Long Acre, St. Giles, St. Martin’s Lane, the Savoy, Somerset House, the Strand, Temple Bar, etc., and a fund of out-of-the-way anecdote of Londoners past.
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TROLLOPE, Anthony, 1815-1882 : JOHN CALDIGATE.
London : Chapman & Hall, 1879. First edition. A scarce late Trollope, featuring on Sadleir’s “A”-list of rarities (XIX Century Fiction, 1951). Disinherited son makes good in the goldfields of Australia, returning home a wealthy man to marry Hester Bolton, but the delightfully wicked Euphemia Smith turns up to claim a prior marriage. Trollope makes interesting use of his Post Office experience to hinge the story on a forged postmark. “Mr Trollope has perhaps never hit upon a story that more strongly arouses the reader’s attention and sympathy, and never told one with more mastery of the whole situation, in small things no less than in great” (The Graphic, 26th July 1879).
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“VANE, Roland” – [McKEAG, Ernest Lionel, 1896-1974] : SILKEN DIVANS.
London : Phoenix Press, [ca.1946]. First edition. As they arrive in Paris, Madge Bradley rather regrets having become travelling companion to the fat, ugly, flashily-dressed, and intolerably rich widow, Mrs Brent. Published by Phoenix from their mid-1940s Deacon Street address.
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WALLIS, Edward, 1787?-1868 – publisher : A NEW MAP OF THE WORLD.
London : Edward Wallis, [ca.1820]. An extremely uncommon jigsaw map of the world, produced for educational purposes – the world in hemispheres, with six ancillary maps showing circles, zones, parallels, meridians, definitions, etc. First produced by Wallis’s father, John Wallis (1745?-1818) in 1800, but here with some revision – Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) now shown as a separate island, additional island groups in the Pacific, etc.
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WAVELL, A.P. (Archibald Percival, First Earl), 1883-1950 : OTHER MEN’S FLOWERS : AN ANTHOLOGY OF POETRY COMPILED BY A. P. WAVELL (FIELD-MARSHAL VISCOUNT WAVELL G.C.B., G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., C.M.G., M.C.)
London : Jonathan Cape, (1944). The first edition of this enduringly popular anthology – the best of English poetry – all of which, it is said, Wavell knew by heart. Includes around 180 poems drawn from all periods and arranged thematically – “Music, Mystery and Magic”; “Good Fighting”; “Love and All That”; “The Call of the Wild”; “Conversation Pieces”; “The Lighter Side”; “Hymns of Hate”; “Ragbag”, and “Last Post”, each with an introduction by Wavell.
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WHEATLEY, Henry B. (Henry Benjamin), 1838-1917 : LONDON PAST AND PRESENT : ITS HISTORY, ASSOCIATIONS, AND TRADITIONS.
London : John Murray, 1891. First edition. A monumental dictionary of London from the well-known Abbey Road, and Abbey Street, Bermondsey, to the Yorkshire Stingo and the Zoo. “There is scarcely an unregarded, shabby-genteel street in Bloomsbury, or Chelsea, or Clerkenwell which has not its shred of history or literature connected with it” (London Evening Standard, 5th February 1891). Ostensibly based on Peter Cunningham’s “Handbook of London” (1849), but so far extended and updated as to be essentially a new work.
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