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Thaddeus of Warsaw.
London: Printed by A. Strahan, for T. N. Longman and O. Rees, , 1803. In Four Volumes. 4 volumes, duodecimo (166 x 108 mm). Contemporary half calf, smooth spines divided into compartments by gilt rules, dark blue morocco labels, marbled sides. Housed in a custom blue quarter-calf solander case. With half-titles and final errata leaf in vol. 1. Bookplates of Edward Southwell Trafford. Light rubbing, front joint of vol. 1 tender, offsetting affecting quire K, vol. 3, contents otherwise fresh and clean, an excellent tall copy, preserving a few deckle edges. First edition of Porter's first acknowledged novel, a significant work that "ranks with Mrs Radcliffe's Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne as a super-rarity among Gothic Romantic novels" (Sadleir 1972). The first edition is held by only one of the six legal deposit libraries in the United Kingdom and Ireland (the National Library of Scotland); Copac adds two copies at the University of Birmingham and the National Trust. OCLC records 13 locations in North America, but it is by any standard a notably rare book. ABPC lists no copy of the first edition at auction since 1975; Rare Book Hub notes only two copies offered for sale by Anderson Galleries in 1934 and 1937. Set during the Second Partition of Poland in the 1790s, Thaddeus of Warsaw is one of the earliest examples in English of the historical novel. Porter "crafted and pioneered many of the narrative tools most commonly associated with both the natural tale and the historical novel" (McLean 2007, p. 99). Despite being commercially published, this work did not have a large initial print run. It did, however, become enormously popular and successive editions were rapidly produced. Porter is best-known now for her 1809 novel The Scottish Chiefs, which retells the story of William Wallace, but during her lifetime she was famous primarily as the author of Thaddeus. Both Thaddeus and The Scottish Chiefs predate Walter Scott's Waverley (1814), Thaddeus by over a decade. While Porter's assertion of her direct influence upon Scott is "mostly wish-fulfilment" (ODNB), it is highly probable that Scott knew the work and that they had been briefly acquainted in childhood.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2017-12-21           Check availability:      Biblio    


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