[inscribed by Conrad] New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1906. Original blue cloth pictorially decorated in yellow, grey and brown.
First (American) Edition, published on the same day as the London one. This was Conrad's first volume of autobiographical non-fiction. This copy is in Cagle's binding "a," with the smaller (17x11mm) anchor-and-rope device on the front cover -- probably the earlier binding state, and certainly the one more-frequently encountered. This is a very good copy (spine darkened, rubbing at extremities and of pictorial pigment). Cagle A11b. Housed in an attractive cloth slipcase with inner chemise.~This is an inscribed presentation copy from Conrad, with the following endpaper inscription: "To Elena Wright | affectionately, from | her friend the Author | 4th Oct. 1906." Eleanor Annie "Elena" Wright (1877-1961) was Jessie Conrad's first cousin -- the daughter of Jessie's mother's sister Sophie -- who took dictation and typed for Conrad during these early years. In fact, THE MIRROR OF THE SEA owes a lot to Elena Wright: as Ford Madox Hueffer (Conrad's co-author of the recent ROMANCE) later recalled, Conrad "wrote" this book by reminiscing out loud (with Elena Wright taking it all down) -- in Hueffer's presence (Hueffer typically takes much credit for reminding Conrad of many events). Three things are noteworthy about this inscription: first, that it is so familiar ("affectionately, from her friend"); second, that at this early stage of Conrad's career (he would not hit it big until CHANCE in 1914), he chose to inscribe with humility, i.e. to write "the Author" rather than his signature; and third, that the date "4th Oct. 1906" was the actual date of publication of both the UK and US editions. (There is also a more recent inscription on the same leaf: "Eve Goodman from J.S. Hall | in memory of Nell"; since "Nell" is often a nickname for Eleanor, these people were quite likely descendants of Elena Wright.) Provenance: small bookplate of Stanley J. Seeger (his sale II, lot 254). Item #13824