THE SCARLET LETTER. A Romance. Nathaniel Hawthorne.


Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1850. Original blind-stamped brown cloth.

First Edition, only printing, of one of the greatest works of American literature -- "the old story of the girl who loved not wisely but too well, set in the stark background of Puritan New England" [Johnson]. While the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale struggles for years with his hidden guilt, and Hester Prynne's husband (alias Roger Chillingworth) becomes morally bankrupt with his cruel search to discover the identity of the unknown father, Hester herself triumphs over her sin by openly confessing to it.

There were 2,500 copies of the first and only printing of the first edition, published on March 16, 1850; the following month was published the second edition of another 2,500 copies (not so identified other than by its inserted "Preface to the Second Edition," though Clark identifies 69 changes in the text, the best-known of which is "reduplicate" changed to "repudiate" on p. 21).

In this copy the first gathering is in Clark's state "a2," with the "N" of "Nathaniel" below the "rd" of "according" on the title verso; also, the final gathering is in Clark's state "x2," with "21" directly below the "ere" of "there" on p. 321. Neither of these variants is an "issue point"; rather, they reflect the fact that at least these two gatherings were

set up by the printer in duplicate, presumably for production economy. There is no textual variation in the duplicate settings..., and since the two settings were machined simultaneously, no priority can be assigned to either" [Clark].

This very good copy has been re-backed, with the original cloth spine put back in place on the later brown re-backing cloth. Included in this process was the addition of later endpapers; thus this copy does not have a preliminary ad catalogue, as it would have resided between the front paste-down and free endpaper. Clark A16.1; Blanck 7600; Johnson "High Spots" p. 38. Item #14660

Price: $1,750.00

See all items in Fiction (19th Century)
See all items by