(London: Printed for T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1820). 254 x 159 mm. (10 x 6 1/4"). Two volumes.
Pleasing late 19th century dark green three-quarter morocco, raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with nautical centerpieces, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. Engraved title page vignettes and 20 plates (including frontispiece) by Charles Heath after Thomas Stothard, all of the engraved material done on India paper and mounted. A Large Paper Copy. Lowndes I, 614. Spines uniformly faded to olive (vague fading also to parts of the leather on the sides of the volumes), extremities just very sightly rubbed, isolated mild marginal foxing, short closed tear to fore edge of one title page, otherwise a fine copy, the bindings with no significant wear, the leaves clean and fresh, and the engravings with none of the expected foxing.
This is an attractive reprint of an enduring classic of English literature, featuring work by one of the most prolific and popular illustrators of the 18th and 19th centuries. DNB says that Stothard (1755-1834) "illustrated almost the whole range of English literature with a taste that seldom failed and a sympathy that was often remarkable," attaining "a place which is second to none for invention and grace." Houfe says that "Stothard was by far the most successful and distinguished illustrator of his day," estimating that "his total contributions" were in excess of 5,000, "most of them figure subjects which the artist took from nature." He was a close friend of Blake, and his work often resembles that of his more famous colleague. The plates here have been re-engraved because the earlier illustrations (done for Stockdale in 1790) were considered to be undesirable. While the 1820 Stothard Defoe is not a rare book, other listings seem not to include copies in Large Paper (as here) or illustrations on special paper. Defoe (ca. 1660-1731) began his professional writing career only after failing as a merchant, having landed in debtor's prison after going bankrupt in the shipping business. His first "bestseller," published in 1701, was "The True-Born Englishman," a satiric poem that went through 50 editions in the first half of the 18th century. The present work, his first novel, wasn't published until 1719, but has been continuously in print ever since. Day deems Defoe "the founder of the modern English novel in his establishment of: (1) a dominant unifying theme with serious thesis; (2) convincing realism by first person narrative carried to the virtual limit of journalistic reporting; and (3) middle-class viewpoint." He is one of the few 18th century novelists still widely read today. This edition includes a long introduction giving an account of Defoe's life and works. (ST12419a)
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PJP Catalog: SE17BF.036