With a Tipped-in Blunt Letter from the Authoress


(London: Published for the proprietors, by George Virtue, 1838). 298 x 220 mm. (11 1/4 x 8 3/4"). [iv], 164 pp. FIRST EDITION.

Contemporary half calf over rose-colored cloth by John Gray of Edinburgh (with his ticket on front pastedown), raised bands, spine gilt in compartments. With frontispiece portrait of the author, engraved title, and 79 plates after William H. Bartlett, including one map of the area. Front free endpaper with tipped-in letter signed by the author; with two-page biography of the author and transcription of the letter loosely laid in. Ross, pp. 43-44; Blackmer Catalogue 888; Hunnisett, p. 114. Spine and top edge of covers just slightly faded, silk with a little minor spotting, contents with scattered light foxing (mostly confined to margins and versos of plates), persistent light marginal stain in upper gutter, but these issues all quite minor, and on the whole a clean, solid, attractive copy with no major defects.

This is a notable item for at least three reasons: it was one of the major books in the canon of illustrated volumes produced by Bartlett; it was significant as an early work on the region by a woman; and (in the words of the Blackmer Catalogue) it "had much influence in terms of increasing popular appreciation of its subject." Reviewers praised Bartlett's work as Virtue published volume after volume, the illustrations of which--varied and picturesque--reminded readers of places as far apart as the Golden Horn and the Catterskill Falls. About the region depicted in the present work, Ross quotes a letter from Bartlett to William Beattie, in which he describes Constantinople and surroundings as "a vast phantasmagoria--very much like a moving diorama full of scenes from fairy tales." A writer of fiction, biography, and travel accounts, Pardoe (1806-62) devoted her adult life to unremitting study and literary production. The "Feminist Companion" indicates that her travel books (including this one, but especially her work dealing with Hungary) were well researched, and even if they are "somewhat florid," they are also "sympathetic to unfamiliar customs and beliefs." This is a common book, but our volume is distinguished from other copies by its condition (without any extensive foxing as is often the case) as well as the tipped-in letter from Pardoe to someone associated with Harper's Magazine, regarding possible contributions to the periodical. Her tone is delightfully frank, noting that she would "forward [a submission] with pleasure if I have time to do so," but warns that she "must in all cases select my own subjects."