MACAIRE. William Ernest Henley, Robert Louis Stevenson.


[scarce -- the McCutcheon copy] A Melodramatic Farce. London: Wm. Heinemann, n.d. [1895]. Original grey printed wrappers, the front cover serving as title page.

First Published Edition (? -- see below). The play "Robert Macaire" had been performed in England since 1835, and before that had been performed in France as early as 1823 (the protagonist is an unscrupulous swindler and con man, who in French culture came to represent the archetypal villain; there was even a daring dance, similar to the later can-can, called the Robert-Macaire). Urged on by Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Stevenson and Henley adapted it in late 1884; however, in late 1885 Tree withdrew from the project, and further stipulated that all passages "indebted to his suggestions" must not be used in any productions.

The true first edition of their adaptation of this play was an 1885 London publication "for private circulation only," that requested copies be returned to Henley. Their play then appeared in the June 1895 issue of The New Review (which was edited by Henley and published by Heinemann); in that issue, the play occupies the 22 pages from 685 to 706.

This is an offprint of those 22 pages, with a grey wrapper that serves as title page; at the end of the text on page 22 (as on page 706 of The New Review), it reads "All Rights Reserved. Entered at the Library of Congress, Washington." The printer is also noted on that page, Harrison and Sons of London.

This edition is so scarce that it is NOT cited in today's major Stevenson bibliographies, such as the Yale (Beinecke) and Princeton (Gerstley/Parrish) collections; both cite the 1897 clothbound Heinemann edition as the "first UK published." This edition IS noted in the original (1903) Prideaux bibliography, but as the "first American issue" and with the date "[1892]" -- which is not true; the 1914 Grolier catalogue (item 69 -- "[1892]... first American edition...") repeats Prideaux's 1903 error. For Prideaux's 1917 ("current") edition, this listing was corrected to "English Edition" and the year 1895; the British Library description (11779 h.28) likewise has it right ("[1895]")

The reason for the question-mark at the beginning of this description is that Stone & Kimball of Chicago were pursuing the same approximate timetable. Macaire was indeed "entered at the Library of Congress" on May 27, 1895 -- in the name of Stone & Kimball; it then appeared in their bi-weekly "Chap-Book"s of June 1st and June 15th (at about the same time as in The New Review), followed by a one-volume edition bound in cloth -- priority uncertain between that and this 22-page Heinemann one, though this Heinemann one, being already type-set for The New Review and bound simply in wrappers, should easily have been earlier.

Condition is very good-plus (some wear to the delicate spine and a little at the bottom edge). Provenance: bookplate of the American novelist and book-collector George Barr McCutcheon (1866-1928); housed in the handsome morocco-backed slipcase which McCutcheon had made for his Stevenson books. Not in Beinecke but see 339-343 and 1124; not in Princeton; Prideaux p. 42. Item #13633

Price: $475.00

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