The Hoe Copy of "Much the Greatest Poem of Any Wide Scope . . . Which has Ever Proceeded from a Woman"


(Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1868). 220 x 148 mm. (8 5/8 x 5 3/4"). 3 p.l., 358 pp. (bound without the 8 pp. of ads at rear). FIRST EDITION.

Very attractive late 19th century polished calf by Riviere & Son (stamp-signed on verso of front free endpaper, covers with triple gilt fillet border, rosettes at corners, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with vase of flowers at center surrounded by small tools, leafy sprays at corners, one red and one green morocco label, turn-ins with floral gilt roll, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. Front pastedown with morocco bookplate of Robert Hoe. Baker & Ross A9.1.a. ◆Spine very lightly and evenly sunned, a little wear to top half-inch of front joint, other trivial imperfections, but still quite a fine copy--clean, fresh, and bright internally in a binding with few signs of use.

Though known for her novels, George Eliot also wrote poetry that was much praised by her contemporaries. This blank verse play set during the Spanish Inquisition tells the story of a gypsy girl separated from her family and raised by Catholic Spanish nobility, but who then forsakes her privileged life and aristocratic fiancé to succeed her father as leader of the gypsies. In a contemporary review, fellow novelist Henry James described it as "marvellously crafted, beautiful and imaginative," while Eliot's biographer Gordon Haight proclaimed it "undoubtedly much the greatest poem of any wide scope and on a plan of any magnitude, which has ever proceeded from a woman." The beautiful bindings by the leading English workshop Riviere and the sparkling condition here are characteristic of books from the collection of our earlier owner Robert Hoe (1839-1911), founding member and first president of the Grolier Club. According to Beverly Chew, Hoe's library was "the finest [America] has ever contained." Hoe acquired illuminated manuscripts, early printing, French and English literature, and very fine bindings; when his library was sold in 1911-12, it fetched nearly $2 million, a record that held until the Streeter sale more than 50 years later. If a book has the Hoe bookplate, one can be assured that it was chosen with discrimination and will almost certainly be in as fine a state of preservation as could be hoped for.

Price: $2,800.00