TWICE-TOLD TALES. Nathaniel Hawthorne.


[Hawthorne's second book] Boston: American Stationers Co. / John B. Russell, 1837. 4 pp preliminary ads plus 16 pp ads, all undated. Original grey-green coarse-ribbed morocco-grain cloth.

First Edition of Hawthorne's second book -- and the first to bear his name on its title page. 1,000 copies were printed, priced at $1.00 each; Hawthorne realized a total of $100.00 from the profits, equivalent to ten cents per copy. His only preceding title was the anonymous FANSHAWE, published at his own expense in 1828 (three years after his graduation from Bowdoin College). That first effort went largely unnoticed but did catch the eye of Samuel Griswold Goodrich ("Peter Parley"), who invited Hawthorne to submit stories to appear in his annual gift-book, THE TOKEN. The 18 tales constituting the first edition of TWICE-TOLD TALES were collected from those "TOKEN appearances."

These tales, which the author said had "the pale tint of flowers that blossomed in too retired a shade," deal with the themes of guilt and secrecy, and intellectual and moral pride, and show Hawthorne's constant preoccupation with the effects of Puritanism in New England. In imaginative, allegorical fashion, he depicts the dramatic results of a Puritanism that was at the roots of the culture he knew, recognizing its decadence in his own time... Among the tales, many of them marked by the author's interest in the supernatural, are sketches of New England history, like "The Gray Champion" ... [and] "The May-Pole of Merry Mount"; stories of incident, like "Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe"; and moral allegories, like "The Minister's Black Veil" [and] "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" [OCAL].

It was this first edition of TWICE-TOLD TALES that launched Hawthorne's literary career: for Goodrich he edited "The American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge" and also compiled PETER PARLEY'S UNIVERSAL HISTORY, and would soon begin writing children's tales. The second (1842) and subsequent editions of TWICE-TOLD TALES would consist of two volumes, since these 18 tales would be supplemented with 21 more.

Copies of the first edition were bound in either of two types of cloth, which in turn were in three or four colors each (no priority) -- though always with the same gilt imprint on the spine. This copy is in grey-green coarse-ribbed morocco-grain cloth, and has, in addition to the four pages of preliminary ads, the 16-page ad catalogue at the rear; some copies have 8, 12 or 14-page ad catalogues instead -- again no known priority. Condition is, for an 1837 book in original cloth, near-fine: there is some very light wear at some of the edges, and the rear endpaper is cracking just a bit; as always for text paper of that era, the leaves show some foxing.

Clark A2.1; Blanck 7581; a "Johnson High Spot" selection; Queen's Quorum page 10 (where both Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Starrett are quoted in praise of "Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe"). Housed in a cloth clamshell case. Provenance: according to a penciled note, this volume came from the library of Maude Merriman Huffman (DAR # 33989). Item #14481

Price: $4,950.00