WATCH AND WARD. Henry Jr James.


[first novel, later disowned] Boston: Houghton, Osgood and Company, 1878. Original blind-stamped green cloth decorated in gilt, page edges red.

First Edition, first impression, of the first novel written by Henry James, having appeared in Atlantic Monthly in 1871. (It was not his first novel published in book form, however, as RODERICK HUDSON earned that honor in 1876; in fact, within a few years James himself essentially disowned WATCH AND WARD -- excluding it from his 1883 Collective Edition -- and began referring to RODERICK HUDSON as his first novel.)

This is an unusual tale in which young Roger Lawrence adopts newly-orphaned twelve-year-old Nora Lambert; she had become an orphan when her father took his own life in the hotel room next to Lawrence, after Lawrence had declined to give him financial assistance. Lawrence has plans to raise his adopted daughter to become his wife some day, but such plans do not foresee that Nora might grow into a beautiful young woman pursued by other suitors...

The tale was published in Osgood's "Little Classics" series, with its small, rather fragile binding; it was not published separately in England. This first impression, printed in May 1878, consisted of only 1000 copies; there was a second impression of another 280 copies in July (the collations of the two are slightly different). This copy is in bright green cloth (some are in terra-cotta, without priority); the endpapers are coated dark blue-black (one of several colors used without precedence). This is a near-fine copy, with minor wear at the foot of the spine. Supino 6.2.0; Edel & Laurence A6; Blanck 10535. Item #14329

Price: $875.00

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