[in the FIRST binding state] In Three Volumes. London: Macmillan and Co., 1887. 1 page Vol I ads. Original dark green cloth.
First Edition of this novel involving a faithful suitor, a flashy rival, and a heroine who makes a fatal choice -- reminiscent of FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD a decade earlier, which in fact was when Hardy first conceived of this story.~The first edition consisted of 1000 copies, of which 860 were initially bound up in this dark green buckram-grained cloth with a double-lined border in black; these copies were undoubtedly sold primarily to the circulating libraries, as today they almost always turn up well-worn and with evidence of library labels. The 140 other sets of sheets were subsequently bound in a similar but cheaper remainder binding (dark green pebble-grained cloth with a single-line border, with the spine lettering in a different font, and without the Vol I ad leaf); as Purdy observes, no ex-circulating library in the secondary binding has ever been noted, so it is likely that they were not actually bound up until after 1894, the final year of the three-decker / lending library relationship -- and in fact Muir asserts that numerous as-new secondary-binding copies did not surface until the late 1920s. What all of this means is that although 860 copies were bound in the primary binding and 140 in the secondary binding, almost all of the fine copies encountered today are in the secondary binding.~This set is in near-fine condition (very slight wear on the sides of the spines and at the head of one spine); the original dark brown-coated endpapers have a few chips in their edges but remain firmly in place. This is the best copy of THE WOODLANDERS in the primary binding that we have seen in our 35+ years of business. Purdy pp 54-57; Muir POINTS I p. 120 (& facing plate); Wolff 3002a. Housed in a custom slipcase. Item #12577