(London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1847). 195 x 120 mm. (7 3/4 x 4 7/8"0. Two volumes. First Collected Edition.
VERY PRETTY EARLY 20TH CENTURY EMERALD GREEN CRUSHED MOROCCO, GILT, BY WILLIAM WORSFOLD (stamp-signed on front turn-ins), covers with gilt-ruled frame, ivy sprays at corners, raised bands, spine compartments repeating the ivy design, gilt titling, gilt-ruled turn-ins with ivy leaf at corners, top edges gilt. Publisher's maroon cloth covers and spines bound in at rear of each volume. With engraved frontispiece portrait at front of volume I. Front pastedowns with armorial bookplate of collector Charles Waterman Armour (1857-1927). Spines slightly but evenly darkened, the bindings with trivial signs of use, occasional minor foxing, three quires lightly browned, three leaves with small brown stain at fore edge, but a fine set, clean and fresh internally, with lustrous, pleasing leather.
This is a handsomely bound collection of Hunt's essays on several subjects, including such diverse topics as female beauty, the inside of an omnibus, and "On seeing a pigeon make love." But as its title suggests, the majority of the essays deal with literary figures and related topics--Madame de Sevigné, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, women poets, Pope, Pepys, bookstalls, bookbinding, "The World of Books," and so on. A voluminous writer, the notable essayist and critic Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) had talent (though perhaps without genius), and he had illustrious friends, among them Shelley and Keats, whom he introduced to each other. He operated a number of radical newspapers and became a martyr in the eyes of young liberals when he was imprisoned for attacks on the Prince Regent. At the same time, Dickens in "Bleak House" caricatured Hunt as a selfish, sentimental aesthete in the portrayal of the character Harold Skimpole. The present anthology was one of several Hunt issued in the 1840s when he was much in need of funds. Hunt was among the first authors to see the potential for a new audience among travellers on the burgeoning railway system, who might like collections of short stories or essays that could be read during their journeys. It seems unlikely that our attractive, well-preserved bindings saw much train travel. They are the work of William Worsfold (1856-1929), a third-generation bookbinder who maintained premises in Soho from the 1880s to the early 1920s. (ST16231)
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PJP Catalog: 77.111