An Extraordinarily Fine Copy of the
Fragile First American Edition of "Villette"
[BRONTĖ, CHARLOTTE]. "CURRER BELL" (Pseudonym).
VILLETTE.(New York: Harper & Brothers, 1853). 191 x 133 mm (7 1/2 x 5 1/4"). , iv, 502, , 6,  pp. (including ads at the front). FIRST AMERICAN EDITION.
Original blindstamped purple cloth, gilt spine titling. In a matching custom-made folding cloth box with printed paper spine label. Front free endpaper with signature of James T. Blanchard. Smith (Brontė) pp. 152-53. Spine gently and evenly sunned, one upper corner bumped, one very small spot on front cover, a breath of marginal foxing here and there, but all of these imperfections obviously trivial. AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE COPY, AS WELL PRESERVED AS ONE COULD HOPE TO FIND, of a very fragile book, its joints and hinges entirely unworn.
This is the first American printing of a major Victorian work of fiction, offered here in the original publisher's cloth binding in a remarkable state of preservation. As was the case with "Jane Eyre," Charlotte Brontė (1816-55) put much of herself and her own experiences into the heroine of "Villette," the author's final novel. The protagonist here, Lucy Snowe, is a thoughtful young Englishwoman who takes a position as a teacher in a French school reminiscent of the Hegers' school in Belgium, where Charlotte taught in 1842-43 and where she fell desperately in love with the very kind but very married Constantin Heger. Heger is transformed in "Villette" into the hero, Paul Emmanuel, Lucy's mentor, and Lucy's love-hate relationship with Catholicism undoubtedly mirrors Charlotte's own mixed feelings. She wrote the novel, with its varied characters and intriguing twists of plot, in a difficult period of her life. Her three siblings had died, and Charlotte, sharing the lonely Haworth Parsonage with her father, suffered from depression and bouts of illness, yet she was heartened by her growing renown as a novelist. One will not find a better copy of our first American edition, which appeared in the same year as the original London printing. (ST9458a)