BORN IN EXILE. A Novel. In Three Volumes.
London and Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1892. 2 pp Vol III undated ads. Original brownish-mauve cloth.
First Edition, which consisted of only 500 copies.
BORN IN EXILE... is one of Gissing's most sustained pieces of fictional autobiography and among his most fascinating performances.... It brings together in closest proximity the themes of class, money, and women so central to all his work; and the exile motif is nowhere else so ubiquitous. [Halperin]
Gissing submitted BORN IN EXILE (then called GODWIN PEAK, for the protagonist) to Smith Elder, and, since he felt NEW GRUB STREET had been such a success, "stated" his price of 250 pounds; Smith Elder denied that NEW GRUB STREET had been a success and got him to lower his price to 150 pounds, but even then told him his books would not sell unless he made them less pessimistic. It was at this point that Gissing contacted the literary agent A.P. Watt, who, after having no luck with Chatto & Windus, with Longmans, nor with Bentley, managed to place the novel with the Scottish firm of A. & C. Black -- for 150 pounds less Watt's 10%. The book sold only moderately well as a three-decker, but did better in subsequent one-volume "cheap" editions.
Published just two years before the end of the three-decker format (mandated by the lending libraries to treble their rental income), this set shows the indignity of a rental past -- evidence of labels removed from the front covers. The spine gilt is rather dull, as if the spines were wiped with a damp cloth. Thus, good-to-very-good condition, but that said, the volumes are in their original state (with black-coated endpapers and without any repairs or recasing or rebinding).
In terms of Gissing scarcity, Sadleir (who did not have a copy) considered this title third behind THE UNCLASSED and ISABEL CLARENDON (of which he did have a copy of each); we would rank ISABEL CLARENDON the toughest, followed by THE UNCLASSED or THE NETHER WORLD, and then perhaps this title. Coustillas A11.1; Collie A11a; Spiers & Coustillas N1; not in Sadleir but see p. 378; Wolff 2542.
Provenance: bookplates of Harry W. Lawton (1927-2005), writer and historian particularly of Native Americans (also the founder/proprietor of The Haunted Bookshop in Berkeley, and the creator of the Creative Writing program at Berkeley); his 1960 book WILLIE BOY: A DESERT MANHUNT became a 1969 film starring Robert Redford. Item #14900