MEMOIRS OF JEANNE D'ARC, SURNAMED LA PUCELLE D'ORLEANS; WITH THE HISTORY OF HER TIMES.
(London: Robert Triphook, 1824). 241 x 152 mm. (9 1/2 x 6"). Two volumes bound in four.
Pleasing 19th century dark blue three-quarter morocco, flat spines decorated in gilt and inlaid with four tan fleurs-de-lys, marbled sides and endpapers, top edges gilt. WITH 27 PLATES, including the five called for (one a double-page map, another a folding color scene), and EXTRA-ILLUSTRATED with 22 plates, four of them in color. A Large Paper Copy. Front flyleaf with the signature of Charles G. Dill dated 31 May 1909. Joints and extremities with a hint of rubbing (but well masked with dye), small chip out of one spine top, backstrips lightly and uniformly sunned, but the pretty bindings solid and with no serious condition issues. Flyleaves and final leaf in each volume somewhat browned (one opening with a small portion of the pages similarly browned from a laid-in acidic object), variable offsetting from the plates (perhaps a dozen rather noticeably offset), intermittent spotted foxing (isolated leaves more heavily foxed); not without problems internally, but the text still fresh, without many signs of use, and printed within vast margins.
This is a well-printed, well-illustrated, and attractively bound biography of one of the most famous women in French history, this account being written at a time when public sentiment was beginning to grow for her canonization. Our anonymous author, William Henry Ireland (1777-1835), produced a considerable number of significant works, but he will always be known as the famous Shakespearean forger. The son of artist Samuel Ireland, whose books of English "Picturesque Views" were quite successful, young Ireland in 1794 forged his first Shakespearean document, a dedicatory letter that he penned on the flyleaf of an old book and that he claimed to be in the bard's own hand. Encouraged by his trusting father, the lad created more Shakespeariana, until he finally fabricated a play, "Vortigern and Rowena," which was staged at Drury Lane Theatre, and which was so flat and unlike Shakespeare that it was laughed off the stage. In 1805 Ireland blithely published the story of his forgeries, of which he always remained perversely proud. His notorious literary debut did not deter him from becoming a prolific writer of poetry, novels, and works of history like the present substantial work. The additional illustrations here include a number of depictions of the Maid of Orleans, portraits of other important historical figures, and scenes of the area where her story took place. The book seems to be unusually rare in the marketplace. (ST12177-10)