1870. [in the scarce wrappers] With Illustrations. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1870. 4 pp ads dated July 1870 (rear wrapper dated June 1870). Original tan printed wrappers. First American (and first illustrated) Edition -- and possibly the first edition overall. This was a popular novel, praised for the excitement and cleverness of its plot, but it is particularly noteworthy for Collins's preoccupation with marriage law and its injustices. MAN AND WIFE was "Collins's first propaganda novel, in which he draws attention not only to such injustice in both Scottish and Irish marriage law, but also presses for the 'right of a married woman, in England, to possess her own property and keep her own earnings'" [Gasson]. (Collins never married -- didn't believe in the institution -- but split his time between two women: the widow Caroline Graves, whose daughter he provided for as his own, and Martha Rudd, 25 years his junior, with whom he had three children -- and with whom he was known as William Dawson!)~The English threedecker -- considered to be the scarcest of all of Collins's UK firsts -- was published in 1870 by F.S. Ellis during the fortnight June 15-30 (priority between the UK edition and this US one is uncertain: first serialization was in Harper's Weekly, December 1869 - August 1870, quickly followed by Cassell's Magazine in the UK a month later). Included in this American edition are 34 illustrations in the text, plus a frontispiece portrait of Collins. Harper issued copies simultaneously in wrappers (as here) at $1.00, and in cloth at $1.50; today, the vast majority of copies that surface on the market are in cloth.~This is a very good-plus copy, with very little wear for such a delicate volume that was never intended to survive 150 years: the only flaw of significance is some ink-spatter near the author's name on the front wrapper. Gasson pp 99-101; Parrish & Miller pp 80-81; Gasson (The Private Library, Summer 1980) pp 68-71.
(Inventory #: 13462)
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