Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1864. Original blind-stamped purple ripple-grain cloth with spines stamped in gilt.
First Edition. Oswald Cray and Sara Davenal are in love... but then, his half-brother, who is in medical partnership with her highly-respected father, administers a fatal dose of chloroform, and Dr. Davenal nobly takes the blame. When the victim's will is read, Dr. Davenal is the designated heir -- causing Oswald to assume that his potential father-in-law is a murderer, and that therefore Sara does not deserve matrimony. And so it goes...
In 1836 Ellen Price had married Henry Wood, and for twenty-plus years his banking and shipping career afforded them the good life in the South of France; then his business failed, the family returned to England, and Ellen turned to writing novels (over thirty!) to become the breadwinner for the family of six. She quickly hit it big with EAST LYNNE (1861), and followed that up with such titles as THE CHANNINGS (1862) and in 1864 this one (though this is not considered to be one of her best efforts). Henry Wood died in 1866, but she kept writing for the rest of her life (until 1889).
As Sadleir points out, Vols I and III are printed by R. & R. Clark, while Vol II is printed by Neill & Co. (both of Edinburgh). This set is in very good-plus, perhaps near-fine, condition: external wear consists only of a few short nicks in two spine heads, and the volumes' spines are sunned to a honey brown (as always with purple cloth); some of the original delicate pale-yellow endpapers are cracked, and all three title pages bear the 1870 signature of an early owner. Because of the fragility of this binding, most sets encountered today are rebound. Sadleir 3354 (a family presentation copy bound in green morocco cloth); Wolff 7285; Hubin (Crime) p. 433. Item #14609