[near-fine in original wrappers] Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., July 1890. 24 pp preliminary ads, plus 26 pp terminal ads [paginated 25-50], interspersed with other sample text leaves. Original printed wrappers.
First (American) Appearance of Oscar Wilde's only novel -- about a man who wills his corruption and evil to appear upon his portrait rather than upon himself. THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY is the direct result of one of the most famous literary luncheons in history: the London agent for Lippincott's was looking for some good tales for the magazine, so he arranged to meet with two writers who had not written much fiction but who showed great promise: Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle. As a result of this luncheon, Wilde wrote DORIAN GRAY specifically for Lippincott's; likewise, Doyle, whose first book had been A STUDY IN SCARLET featuring a still-scarcely-known Sherlock Holmes, was convinced by the agent to write another Sherlock tale for the magazine -- which had just appeared in the February 1890 issue as THE SIGN OF FOUR. (It was not until the following year that Doyle began writing Holmes adventures for The Strand Magazine.)
The entire DORIAN GRAY appears in this one issue, occupying pages 3-100 (pp 1-2 being the novel's title leaf). Fearing that some of the content was indecent, Lippincott's editor James Stoddart altered and deleted about 500 words without Wilde's knowledge; Stoddart "made a number of alterations to downplay the overt homoeroticism in the novel" [Collins] -- for example, the passage "It is quite true that I have worshipped you with far more romance of feeling than a man should ever give to a friend" was changed to "From the moment I met you, your personality had the most extraordinary influence upon me". The full, uncensored version of Wilde's novel was not actually published until 2011 -- 121 years later.
This is the American issue; there was also an English issue of Lippincott's the same month, issued by Ward, Lock & Co. (Lippincott's English distributor, whose name appears secondarily on this front wrapper). It was not until April 1891, nine months later, that Ward Lock published the "first edition" of the novel (though some would call Lippincott's the true first edition). The first edition in book form would include many additions (in fact several new chapters), plus numerous variations, though not getting back to Wilde's original text.
This is a near-fine copy, still in the fragile original wrappers; remarkably, there is scarcely any wrapper edge-wear, or soil, other than a small chip at the lower-left corner of the front wrapper; remarkably, the wrapper's entire spine is present. It is very seldom that we see this in the original wrappers in decent shape any more. Mason 82. Housed in a morocco-backed open-back slipcase. Item #14267