London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1853. Bound in three-quarter dark blue morocco with blue cloth covers, gilt-paneled spines.
First Edition of Charlotte Brontë's last novel written (THE PROFESSOR was published later, posthumously, but had been her first novel written -- rejected by the publisher who accepted her sisters' WUTHERING HEIGHTS and AGNES GREY; she quickly came up with a replacement, JANE EYRE). In fact she used in VILLETTE some material from the rejected THE PROFESSOR, since she of course had no reason to believe that THE PROFESSOR would ever be published.
The city "Villette" in the tale is Brussels, where Charlotte had worked as a teacher, harboring a secret passion for the professor/director of the school -- just like VILLETTE's protagonist Lucy Deane. VILLETTE is often considered to be Charlotte Brontë's best novel, apart from JANE EYRE (in fact, both George Eliot and Virginia Woolf prized the novel above even JANE EYRE). The novel is a bleak one in many ways, despite the setting in a foreign city -- as loneliness is a major theme throughout. The year after VILLETTE was published, Charlotte married her father's curate; a year later, pregnant, she caught a chill on the moors and died of consumption, like her sisters before her.
Originally bound in delicate olive-brown cloth, this set of VILLETTE is rebound by Bayntun in handsome three-quarter blue morocco with gilt-paneled spines. The Vol I ad catalogue that probably appeared in the original binding was not retained for the rebinding; VILLETTE was published without half-titles, so their absence here is to be expected. Condition is fine, with just a little foxing (curiously, mainly on the flyleaves added for rebinding). Smith pp 134-142; Sadleir 349; Wolff 828. Item #14899