Both Johnson's Works and Boswell's Life in 15 Very Handsome and Substantial Volumes


(Oxford: Printed for William Pickering, London, and Talboys and Wheeler, Oxford, 1825-26). 251 x 152 mm. (9 7/8 x 6"). 15 volumes. Edited by Francis Pearson Walesby.

VERY HANDSOME MAROON PEBBLE-GRAIN MOROCCO, LAVISHLY GILT, covers with an intricate frame comprised of three blind and six gilt fillets, the latter flanking an elegant string of gilt floral sprays, mandorlas, coils, and rosette cornerpieces, the large central panel further defined by ornamental cornerpieces connected by a gilt rule; spines lavishly gilt in compartments with central floral bouquet surrounded by swirling vines, leaves, and many small tools, turn-ins with triple gilt fillet, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. With frontispiece portraits of Johnson and Boswell and three folding facsimiles of Johnson's writing. A Large Paper Copy. Works: Courtney & Smith, pp. 166-67; Fleeman 87.3W/22a (vols. I-IX) and 87.3W/1.2/1a (vols. X-XI); Keynes, p. 62; Brunet III, 551; Graesse III, 471; Lowndes II, 1217-18. "Life": Keynes, p. 43; Pottle 90. Just a hint of rubbing to extremities, but the remarkably pleasing bindings essentially unworn and extremely lustrous. Two leaves with small closed tears, perhaps half a dozen pages per volume with a pinpoint fox mark in the margin, one page with a small stain, but a beautiful copy internally, unusually clean, fresh, and smooth, and with expansive margins. AN ESPECIALLY ATTRACTIVE SET.

This is a highly praised edition of the life and works of Samuel Johnson, our Large Paper Copy with stately margins that complement the luxurious bindings, pleasing to the eye and to the touch. Although William Pickering began his legendary publishing career in 1820, it wasn't until 1825, after a move to larger premises, that he began to produce substantial numbers of high quality editions. In the latter year, Pickering began his association with the Oxford firm of Talboys and Wheeler, and with this association began the series of books known collectively as the Oxford English Classics. According to Keynes, "these handsome volumes were produced at the printing offices of the Oxford partners, but their general design shows clear signs of Pickering's predominating influence. The books are large octavos, well printed on ribbed paper with a fine Oxford device on the title pages." Keynes says that our 11-volume edition of Johnson and the four-volume Boswell's Johnson issued in 1826 "are the most valuable of the series," and singles out this edition of the "Life" for "special merit." Brunet calls the collection of Johnson's works "one of the best, and the most complete to this time." The editor, Francis Pearson Walesby (1798-1858), was an Oxford professor. Although the title page of the first volume announces that the set will consist of nine volumes, a 10th and 11th were added, of "Parliamentary Debates." These are Parliamentary reports which Johnson began to make at the age of 32 for the "Gentleman's Magazine."

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PJP Catalog: 73.121