[one of only 500 copies] In Three Volumes. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1888. 2 pp Vol III undated ads. Original terra-cotta cloth.
First Edition, which consisted of only 500 copies published on 15 November 1888. Although A LIFE'S MORNING was Gissing's sixth novel published, it was his fourth written (before DEMOS (1886) and THYRZA (1887)); he had written this in three months during 1885, with the title EMILY. James Payn accepted it then for publication (serially for The Cornhill and in book form for Smith Elder -- each of whom paid Gissing only fifty pounds for the rights to it. Payn insisted not only upon a new title, not only upon publishing it in three volumes rather than Gissing's planned two (without telling Gissing!), but also upon Gissing writing a new ending: Emily Hood was originally to die of heart failure, but in the final form she has a "happily-ever-after" marriage instead.
Payn, with typical unconcern, did not say a word about the book for two years, but when he at length decided to run it as a serial from January to December , he did it with the proviso that Gissing change the ending, a fantastic demand which made the poor author furious. If Gissing wished to receive the badly needed 50 pounds mentioned in the memorandum of agreement, he must mutilate his story, that is, resuscitate his heroine and drag her to the altar. It is no wonder Payn's behavior has earned him in Gissing criticism a reputation for being a pretentious ass and an offensive philistine. A victim of Payn and poverty..., Gissing was not only indignant but filled with shame at having to yield to such a diktat. [Coustillas].
As Coustillas points out, the binder of A LIFE'S MORNING used an imaginative technique to make the volumes appear to be in two different textures of cloth -- blind-stamped with a morocco-grain on the covers but left smooth on the spines and corners -- in imitation of a "half-calf" binding.
This is a very good-plus set, with a few small nicks in the spine ends and with only quite minor cracking of some (original pale-yellow) endpapers; it is evident that a large bookplate is removed (though not messily) from Vol I's front paste-down. Since most Gissing three-decker novels went directly to lending libraries, it is very unusual to find one of the 500 still in this desirable condition. Coustillas A6.1a; Collie A6a; Spiers & Coustillas I2; Sadleir 969; Wolff 2550. Item #12591