[a handsome copy] With Illustrations by W.T. Benda. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1918. Original brown linen-grain cloth lettered in light orange.
First Edition, first printing (with the date on the FRONT of the title leaf), first state (with the illustrations on coated paper, rather than on text paper). This was Cather's second great novel of immigrant life on the Nebraska frontier, following O PIONEERS! (1913) -- and the third and last of her great "prairie novels," after O PIONEERS! and THE SONG OF THE LARK (1915). It tells of a Bohemian immigrant girl's life there, and of the pioneer strength that carries her through numerous adversities.
Cather took a major role in the production of this book, choosing the illustrator and negotiating with Houghton Mifflin regarding many aspects of the book (especially the advertising budget, which HMC would not increase above $300.00!). She was particularly upset when she learned that HMC had ordered the illustrations printed on coated plate paper; she insisted that they be on regular text paper (though individually inserted), so some of the 3,500 copies of the first printing (but not this one) are in that later state. Cather's displeasure with Houghton Mifflin's handling of this book resulted in Alfred A. Knopf being her publisher from then on.
This is a close-to-fine copy (a bit of the inevitable rubbing at the corners of the spine, a hint of cracking of the rear endpaper). Since this was a modestly-produced wartime book, we seldom see copies approaching this condition anymore. Crane A9a.1. Item #14981