A Novel. In Two Volumes. London: Chapman and Hall, 1881. 28 pp Vol II ads dated Nov 1880. Original grey cloth decorated in black.
First English Edition of one of Trollope's best short novels. Mr. Peacocke goes to America for a position as vice-president of a college in St. Louis, where he marries a woman whose first husband is believed to have died. The couple then returns to England for positions at Dr. Wortle's School -- only to have rumor and blackmail follow them across the Atlantic. Here Trollope drew heavily on his own visit to Washington University in St. Louis, and his acquaintance with T.S. Eliot's grandfather, the university's founder and chancellor.
The binding of this pair of books is (according to Sadleir) "unparalleled in nineteenth century publishing." What is curious is that the black title and decoration appear on either cover of each volume -- so that there are two-volume sets with all four possibilities (front/front, front/back, back/front and back/back). One theory as to the publisher's aim is that they wanted to give booksellers every possible way to display the books, to maximize visibility of the title -- but it remains a mystery.
In any case, this is one of the odd sets that has the black blocking on both rear covers, probably the strangest of the four possibilities. Condition is very good only, with evidence of former library labels on the (fortunately blank) front covers, moderate wear at the extremities and with a few gatherings standing a bit proud. Sadleir (TROLLOPE) 59. Item #14256