The Story of a West-Indian Slave. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1890. 2 pp undated ads. Original white cloth decorated in blue, with cover and spine label.
First Edition of this novel, Hearn's fifth book. Both YOUMA and his fourth, TWO YEARS IN THE FRENCH WEST INDIES (also 1890), were the result of Hearn's 1887-1889 residence in the tropics (particularly on the island of Martinique), so commissioned by Harper's. Youma is a black slave who is raised as a white girl's companion; when the grown white woman dies, Youma becomes responsible for her small daughter -- in the midst of racial riots. The novel was based on an actual occurrence in the Martinique slave rebellion of 1848.
The first edition of YOUMA is believed to have consisted of only 1250 copies, bound in a number of different bindings. This one is Blanck's "binding Aa," white cloth printed with blue with labels, believed to be the earliest -- though even this one comes with at least nine different patterns of blue design. The preliminary leaves are in "binder's variant B" -- folded so that the dedication precedes the title (no known priority). This copy is in very good-plus condition (scarcely any wear at all, but the some of the cloth (and the spine label) is sunned). Blanck 7921. Housed in a morocco-backed slipcase, this copy bears the small leather "Blairhame" bookplate of the noted collector Mrs. J. Insley Blair. Item #13702