London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1863. 2 pp Vol II undated ads. Original green cloth with spines decorated in gilt.
First Edition, which consisted of 2,288 copies printed. Her fourth novel, ROMOLA was the author's own favorite -- and quite a departure from her first three (ADAM BEDE, THE MILL ON THE FLOSS and SILAS MARNER): where the earlier tales were sited in contemporary rural England, ROMOLA is a historical novel sited in Fifteenth-Century Florence. It was not the favorite of her reading public, however: two years later, Smith Elder still had on hand sufficient copies of the original 2,288 to issue the remaining sheets bound three-volumes-in-one, with the price reduced from 31s6d to just 6s. Sadleir considered ROMOLA one of the scarcest Eliot first editions (in fact the scarcest to be found in fine condition).
ROMOLA was curiously published without half-titles. This is a very good set, with minor exterior soil and shelf-wear, and some cracking of the delicate original endpapers; the front covers bear faint evidence that lending library labels once resided there, and this past is further borne out by the presence of non-book ads affixed to the endpapers of Vol I. Still, the spine gilt remains rather bright, and the volumes are tight. Due to abuse at the hands of the lending libraries and to the fragile endpapers, most sets are by now rebound. Baker & Ross A7.2(1); Sadleir 817 (also pp 377-378); Wolff 2061; Muir 5. Item #14820