1887. In Three Volumes. London: Macmillan and Co., 1887. Original dark green cloth. First Edition of this novel involving a faithful suitor, a flashy rival, and a heroine who makes a fatal choice -- reminiscent of FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD a decade earlier, which in fact was when Hardy first conceived of this story.~The first edition consisted of 1000 copies, of which 860 were initially bound up in dark green buckram-grained cloth (and were undoubtedly sold primarily to the circulating libraries). The 140 other sets of sheets were subsequently bound quite similarly but in pebble-grained cloth (and without the Vol I ad leaf); the present copy is such a set. As Purdy observes, the pebble-grained binding "is distinctly less common than the buckram-grained binding", as one would expect; however, since most of the buckram-grained copies were "read to death" by fortnightly borrowers from the circulating libraries (whereas no ex-library copies of the pebble-grained binding have ever been noted), Hardy collectors have learned that the secondary binding is their best hope of procuring a nice copy of THE WOODLANDERS.~Such is the case here: this set is in bright, near-fine condition (scarcely any external wear other than a faint crease in one board; a couple of the original chocolate brown-coated endpapers cracked). Hardy three-deckers are very uncommon in this condition. Purdy pp 54-57; Muir POINTS I p. 120 (& facing plate); Wolff 3002a. (Inventory #: 13615)
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