New York: McClure, Phillips & Co., 1905. Original blind-stamped red cloth.
First Edition, first binding state, of Willa Cather's first volume of prose. It was her second book -- a collection of seven short stories; two years earlier had been published her first book, a volume of verse titled APRIL TWILIGHTS. Soon after THE TROLL GARDEN was published, she joined the staff of the publisher's magazine, McClure's; there, with Sam McClure and Ida Tarbell, she was part of the groundbreaking group of investigative reform journalists who teamed up so effectively with Theodore Roosevelt (read about them in Doris Kearns Goodwin's recent BULLY PULPIT). Cather would leave the magazine in 1912 to pursue creative writing full-time, publishing ALEXANDER'S BRIDGE that year and then breaking out with O PIONEERS! in 1913 -- finally turning to writing about the Nebraska in which she had grown up.~This copy is in the first binding state, vertically-ribbed cloth with a blind-stamped binding design by William Jordan (initialed at lower left) -- with "McClure Phillips & Co." at the foot of the spine. (That firm was dissolved in 1906 and the unsold sheets were bought up by Doubleday Page, who then issued them (including the original title page) in coarse mesh cloth with their name at the foot of the spine.)~This is a fine copy, with scarcely any external wear or soil. The number of copies printed is now unknown, but this is an uncommon book, especially in decent condition. Crane A4a. Provenance: small bookplate of the renowned bookbinder, horticulturist and general bibliophile Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt (1882-1963); the Hunt Botanical Library and the Hunt Institute are named for her and her husband Roy. Item #14190