Item #14616 QUEEN MAB. Percy Bysshe Shelley.


[in original boards] London: Printed and Published by R. Carlile, 1822. Original drab paper-covered boards.

First Published Edition, second issue -- which is to say, the sheets of William Clark's 1821 pirated edition, with the 1822 cancel title leaf of radical publisher Richard Carlile. "Queen Mab, a Philosophical Poem [in Nine Cantos] with [Seventeen] Notes" -- Shelley's first major poetic work -- was first privately-printed in 1813. Since it was a radical and revolutionary vision of a utopian world (from an atheistic viewpoint), Shelley never intended it to go beyond his friends. But in 1821 a stash of the undistributed sheets was discovered by London bookseller William Clark, and the result was an 1821 pirated edition (with the help of the infamous book pirate Thomas Moses, whose monogram also appears here on the final page of text). Shelley tried to suppress this Clark/Moses edition, but was unsuccessful because the courts ruled that "books liable to conviction for blasphemy or sedition are not entitled to legal protection." Clark spent four months in prison, courtesy of the Society for the Prevention of Vice; Clark's sheets ultimately fell into the hands of his former employer Richard Carlile, who issued this edition (with his own title leaf) in 1822 -- Shelley having just drowned off the coast of Italy in July 1822.

This copy includes, at the rear, Shelley's dedicatory poem "To Harriet *****, which had appeared in his 1813 copies but which Shelley had ever since tried to suppress -- and for good reason... In 1811, 19-year-old Shelley had eloped with 16-year-old Harriet Westbrook, under her threat that she would otherwise take her own life; in July 1814 -- after the 1813 QUEEN MAB was printed with its dedication -- Shelley fled pregnant Harriet for the Continent with Mary Godwin and, after Harriet did in fact take her own life, married Mary at the end of 1816. (In 1818 Mary's FRANKENSTEIN was published.)

This copy is still, remarkably, in the original drab paper-covered boards, albeit without spine label; the leaves are uncut, and the original endpapers are intact. There is minor edge-wear, and one small patch of the spine has chipped away, but this is certainly near-fine condition. Housed in a cloth clamshell case with leather label. (Incidentally, in the legendary eight-day Jerome Kern sale of January 1929, the highest price achieved (today, just over $1 million) was by a copy of QUEEN MAB annotated by Shelley -- thanks to Lee Biondi for this tidbit.). Item #14616

Price: $2,500.00

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