SHIRLEY. A Tale. Charlotte Brontë.


By Currer Bell, author of "Jane Eyre." New York: Harper & Brothers, 1850. 4 pp undated ads. Original blind-stamped purple-brown cloth.

First American Edition, hardbound (cloth) printing. This was Charlotte Brontë's second published novel, following JANE EYRE -- still under the pseudonym of "Currer Bell." The tale takes place in Yorkshire at the time of the Luddite riots (during the later stages of the war against Bonaparte): a textile mill owner risks death and destruction by trying to replace workers with machinery, and hopes to avoid financial ruin with a loveless marriage to Shirley -- who sees through him and rejects him. The tale is generally considered not to be one of Charlotte Brontë's better efforts -- she did a magnificent job describing Shirley (modeling her after her sister Emily), but most critics agree that having to stretch the novel to fill three volumes (as was required by the British lending libraries of the time) was not a good idea.

Smith Elder first published SHIRLEY in England in three volumes in late-October 1849 (bearing that year on the title pages); a month before that, they had sold to Harper (for fifty pounds) a set of advance sheets. Harper published two different editions on November 22nd (post-dating both of them 1850) -- a double-column 206-page edition bound in wrappers, plus this single-column 572-page edition bound in cloth. "Both formats (actually separate editions) constitute the first American edition" [Smith].

This copy is in very good condition (quite light wear at the extremities, cloth sunned especially on the spine); as always with this late-1840s paper, there is some (light) foxing on the leaves. The original front free endpaper bears (fortuitously) a November 1849 signature, plus (unfortunately) a 1928 one. Smith BRONTE pp 128-129. Item #14876

Price: $675.00

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