In Three Volumes. London: Macmillan and Co., 1887. 2 pp undated Vol I ads. Original dark green cloth.
First Edition, first binding state, 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 double-line border on the covers (in addition to the frame within), and with a leaf of Vol I ads. These 860 copies were sold primarily to the circulating libraries, which affixed labels to the volumes' covers and rented them out fortnightly. The 140 other sets of sheets were not bound up until some years later (Purdy provides evidence for 1894, which was the final year of the lending libraries' strangle-hold on fiction) -- and were bound quite similarly but in pebble-grained cloth (with single-line border, and without the Vol I ad leaf). As Purdy observes, the pebble-grained binding "is distinctly less common than the buckram-grained binding", as one would expect; however, since most of the buckram-grained copies were "read to death" by fortnightly borrowers from the circulating libraries (whereas no ex-library copy of the pebble-grained binding has ever been noted), it is almost impossible to find a truly fine set of THE WOODLANDERS in this primary binding.
This set is in the primary binding, and thus does bear evidence of the prior presence of lending library labels on the front covers -- but is otherwise is bright and near-fine, with little other wear (one slightly cracked endpaper). Purdy pp 54-57; Muir POINTS I p. 120 (& facing plate); Wolff 3002a. Item #14086