Illustrated by John McLenan. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1863. 2 pp undated ads. Original blind-stamped violet cloth.
First American (and first illustrated) Edition of "the most unjustly neglected of all Wilkie Collins's novels," initially published as an 1862 three-decker. Actually there is uncertainty in the priority between two American editions -- this Harper one-volume edition, or Gardner A. Fuller's two-volume Boston one (undated, but likewise 1863); interestingly, this copy's front endpaper bears an ownership signature dated Feb. 2, 1863.
Written just after THE WOMAN IN WHITE, NO NAME centers about the theme of illegitimacy. It is the story of Magdalen Vanstone's attempt to regain control of her father's fortune (because she and her sister were children of a common-law marriage, their father's will making them his heirs was declared invalid). Enlisting the aid of the "delightful scoundrel" Horatio Wragge, she even tries to entice the replacement heir into matrimony; Wragge's worthy antagonist, Mrs. Lecount, is "one of Collins's most convincing Jezebels" [Ashley]. The novel probably represents Collins's best integration of exciting plot with social comment; one unusual feature is the uncertainty of who represents good and who evil in the tale. Also figuring in the plot is the drug laudanum (containing opium) -- with which that year Collins, suffering from gout, first began what would become a lifelong addiction.
This copy is in the primary state, with the title page dated and with only 222 titles listed on the ad leaf (later copies are undated and list 269 titles). It is a very good copy, with minor shelf-wear at the extremities; atypically for violet cloth, the spine is not very faded, and the gilt there remains bright. In all, quite collectible condition for a book which, after THE WOMAN IN WHITE and THE MOONSTONE, is one of Collins's best. Parrish & Miller pp 47-48; also see Sadleir 601 and Wolff 1371. Item #14314