A Romance of the Isles. Derby: printd by Harpur and Murray at the Moray Press in May 1894 and sold by Frank Murray at his Bookshops in Derby Leicester and Nottingham. Original flexible boards covered with glazed grey-green paper elaborately decorated in gilt.
First Edition (trade issue -- there were also 75 numbered/signed copies), published as a volume in the printer's "Regent Library." This "romance of the Isles" is in fact the first book to bear the name "Fiona Macleod" -- by this Scottish writer of the 'Nineties whose true identity was so long in being discovered.
From the very beginning a vein of mystic pantheism, born of these [Scottish Highland] mountains and his Gaelic blood, showed itself in the boy's nature. Three times he ran away from home to live in the mountain solitude, once spending an entire unforgettable summer in a gypsy encampment. [K&H]
Sharp went on to write both under his own name and under the secret pseudonym of "Fiona Macleod"; until his death at the end of 1905, only his wife and a few close friends knew the secret. Toward the end Sharp himself came to believe she really existed -- whether due to a form of multiple personality disorder or a form of sexual ambiguity.
Certainly Fiona was the better writer of the two. Though even in her writings there is often something a bit too soft and vague, they are alive with the mystery of the mountains and forests of Scotland; they have the supernal thrill that goes to the bone, and carry us to a land where it is always autumn. In them, Sharp expressed not only his Celtic heritage, but also the feminist aspect of his being; he himself said that sometimes when he wrote in her name he felt half-woman. [K&H]
PHARAIS is dedicated to "E.W.R." -- Edith Wingate Rinder, another writer of the Celtic circle in Edinburgh; Sharp had an intensely romantic but probably asexual attachment to Rinder, and later attributed all of his "Fiona Macleod" writings to her influence.
This is a very good-plus copy (the delicate paper-covered boards are rubbed at their edges, plus at one small spot on the front cover). A local production in Derby, this is a very scarce book; the comprehensive Colbeck collection contained two of the 75 limited/signed copies, but not a single trade copy like this one. NCBEL III 1064; see Colbeck p. 740. Item #11325