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In Northern Mists. Arctic Exploration in Early Times. Translated by Arthur G. Chater.
London: William Heinemann, 1911 - 2 volumes, large octavo. Original grey-blue combed cloth, spines lettered in gilt, front boards with semi-circular gilt design of low sun over sea and mountains with approaching Viking longship, lettered in gilt, enclosed within concentric blind double panels. Volume I with very short nick at head of spine, corners very slightly bumped, top edge of volume II a little dusty, touch of foxing to fore-edges. An excellent copy. Tipped-in coloured frontispieces (with tissue guards), numerous illustrations and maps in the text; title pages printed in blue & black. First edition in English. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the half title of volume I: "To Mrs. G. Lewis from her friend Fridtjof Nansen, London Nov. 3rd. 1911"; volume II inscribed on the front free endpaper (in a secretarial hand): "For Mrs. George Lewis, in sincere friendship from the Publisher, 2. 09. 1911". A very appealing provenance that highlights a well-documented aspect of Nansen's character: the great Norwegian explorer cut a striking figure and enjoyed a reputation as a womaniser. Roland Huntford writes in his biography of Nansen that when in London: "[he] had at last moved out of his hotel into suitable rooms. They were modest enough, in a block of service flats at 36 Victoria Street, convenient for Parliament, Whitehall, the Foreign Office - and Buckingham Palace. The premises had been found by an admirer called Marie Lewis. She was the German-born daughter-in-law of Sir George Lewis, a famous criminal lawyer, who belonged to King Edward's raffish set, had infiltrated the underworld, had saved his Majesty himself from various scrapes, and was said to know enough to ruin half the Dukes and Duchesses of England. During the summer, Nansen had broken a genuine engagement with [Sir John] Scott Keltie, where he would have been introduced to Captain Scott, in order to go down and see Marie Lewis at the seaside resort of Sheringham [Norfolk] instead. 'I cannot blame you,' was Keltie's mild reproach. 'I think Sheringham is an excuse for committing any crime'. For her part, Mrs Lewis had reported to Nansen chattily after his departure: 'we have been bathing every day and of course my sister has missed you in the water and also for giving her the finishing touches with powder'". In Northern Mists is a handsomely produced book and was undertaken by Nansen at the request of the Royal Geographical Society: "this book owes its existence to a rash promise made some years ago to my friend [the geographer] Dr. J. Scott Keltie". It is an historical survey of the opening of the Arctic from classical antiquity to Cabot and the Portuguese discoveries in the north-west, and includes an account of the Viking discovery of America. There appear to have been two variants of the cloth binding: with the front cover lettered and panelled in black or - as here - lettered in gilt and panelled in blind; the latter could be classified the superior of the two. We have had another copy signed, to Sir Edward Grey (also dated 3 November 1911) in the same binding. In Northern Mists was originally published in Norwegian earlier the same year. A very smart copy with a piquant provenance. Arctic Bibliography 11993. [Attributes: First Edition; Signed Copy]
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2017-10-05           Check availability:      ZVAB    

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