Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1866. 4 pp undated Vol III ads. Original reddish-brown cloth decorated in gilt.
First Edition of what must certainly be considered the author's least memorable novel. Her husband first approached Smith, Elder, who had just published ROMOLA, but they refused it; he then contacted her old publisher Blackwood (not mentioning Smith, Elder's refusal), who, delighted to get her back, offered £5,000 for the copyright for five years. Blackwood's magnanimous offer, and his need to recoup it, caused FELIX HOLT to be overproduced, and to this day it is not a scarce book.
FELIX HOLT was issued in five different bindings, labeled "A" through "E" by Carter. Carter asserted that "A" through "C" were simultaneous primary bindings, that "D" (the easiest one to find in fine condition today) was a later binding, and that the blue "E" was a still later (though uncommon) one:
... it is difficult to believe that the variations in A, B and C have any significance. Probably several machines were working on the job at the bindery, and the differences in the ornaments and lettering would be accounted for by a shortage of any one particular set of brasses.
This set is in binding "A": although Carter says A, B & C may have been simultaneous, he does add that the British Library copy plus the only two inscribed presentation copies he could trace are in "A". Vol III has the two pages of ads (actually S7 & S8) in Baker & Ross's state ii. This is a bright, close-to-fine set (a touch of rubbing here and there, some of the delicate original endpapers cracking a little). We seldom see any of the three primary bindings in any better condition. Baker & Ross A8.1; Sadleir 814 (bindings "B" & "E"); Wolff 2058 (binding ["D"]); Carter BV pp 111-2 (& plate VIII). Item #14822