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Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife A Biography
London: Chatto and Windus. Very Good. 1885. First British Edition. Hardcover. 2 vols pages; Publisher's blue-green diced cloth, spines lettered in gilt, covers with a plain ruled border (in black on the front covers and in blind on the rear), dark brown endpapers. A nice set, with wear confined to a couple of points at the bottom edge of each spine, and two faint dents to the fore edges of the covers of the first volume -- suggesting that it had once been tied with string. The first British edition of this standard biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne by his son Julian Hawthorne [1846-1934] -- writer, journalist (and convicted con man ... but that is not relevant to the matter at hand). This copy has ownership inscriptions neatly written in ink at the top margin of each title page: "Edward Lear. Nov. 20th, 1884 / Villa Tennyson. Sanremo" The signatures are quite distinctive, unmistakable as having been written by the great Edward Lear [1812-1888] -- English artist, illustrator, musician, poet, limerick writer and author of the great "Book of Nonsense" and subsequent publications of a similar nature. Lear traveled extensively, to Greece and Egypt during 1848–49, India and Ceylon during 1873–75, and finally settled in Liguria along the Mediterranean coast, in Sanremo [usually spelled "San Remo" by speakers of English in the nineteenth century]. Lear was deeply fond of Tennyson, whose poems he had a life long desire to illustrate. Lear named his first villa in San Remo the "Villa Emily," after Tennyson's wife. When a growing tide of tourism in San Remo led to the construction of a grand hotel immediately next door to Lear's first Villa, Lear found his light blocked and privacy compromised. So he had another similar Villa built, naming the replacement after the great poet himself -- Villa Tennyson. There are tantalizing currents which seem likely to have connected Edward Lear with Nathaniel Hawthorne. Both wrote books for children at about the same time which will live forever, of course. Both men traveled in Italy -- Lear and Hawthorne were both guests at the villa of the American sculptor William Wetmore Story in Rome (but perhaps not at the same time). An early owner of this set, perhaps Edward Lear, has creased the corner of one leaf -- (the text on the verso contains an account of how Hawthorne disliked winter in England, entirely unlike the clear and brilliant, albeit cold, winters he remembered in New England. Edward Lear, who spent most of his life chasing the sun, must have agreed). Julian Hawthorne was born in 1846, the same year that Edward Lear wrote and published 'A Book of Nonsense,' the volume of limericks through which his name will live forever. Nathaniel Hawthorne had already written several books, but he joined the immortals of literature for children in 1851, with 'A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys' -- followed by a sequel, 'Tanglewood Tales for Boys and Girls.' There is one last twist of the tenuous connection, as Julian Hawthorne's daughter Hildegarde Hawthorne [1871-1952] wrote a charming life of Edward Lear for "St. Nicholas" magazine [Hawthorne, Hildegarde. “Edward Lear.” St. Nicholas: A Monthly Magazine for Boys and Girls, Volume XLIV, part I, November 1916 – April 1917, pp. 71-3.] Edward Lear died at his San Remo Villa Tennyson in 1888. (A frequent guest at the grand hotels whose existence irritated Lear was Alfred Nobel, who bought a villa in Sanremo in 1891 and died there in 1896). It should also be noted that these two volumes include transcripts of letters from the subject's some-time friend and near-neighbor, Herman Melville -- one of the comparatively small number of publications of Melville letters issued during his lifetime. The Melville material here includes two famous letters from 1851 concerning "The Whale" (dedicated by Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne) -- see vol I, pp. 398-407. .
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Last Found On: 2017-07-18           Check availability:      Biblio    

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