London: T.C. Newby, 1848. Item #00031
"A Portrait of Debauchery That Is Remarkable"
One of the First Modern Feminist Novels
No. 1 on Sadleir’s list of “Comparative Scarcities”
[BRONTË, Anne]. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. By Acton Bell. In Three Volumes. London: T.C. Newby, 1848.
First edition, first issue, of Anne Brontë’s second novel, with all of the flaws noted by Smith.
Three twelvemo volumes (7 3/4 x 4 13/16 inches; 197 x 122 mm.). , 358; , 366; , 342 pp. Complete with the excessively rare half-title in Volume I (no half-titles called for in Volumes II and III), but bound without the final leaf of advertisements in Volume I. Minimal foxing and mostly marginal soiling, occasional small neat paper repairs or closed marginal tears. Still an exceptional copy of Sadleir's No. 1 in rarity.
Bound ca. 1900 by Rivière & Son (stamp-signed on the verso of the front free endpaper) in full tan polished calf. Covers with gilt triple fillet border and gilt corner ornaments, spine decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments with two brown morocco gilt lettering pieces, board edges ruled in gilt, turn-ins decoratively tooled in gilt, top edge gilt others uncut. With the armorial bookplate of Herbert S. Leon on the front paste-down of each volume. Housed in a custom made half tan calf clamshell case with raised bands and two green morocco lettering labels and felt-lined dividers.
Alcohol abuse, opium addiction, spousal abuse, adultery, dissolute behavior, moral corruption - this novel has it all.
A book that Sadleir calls the rarest Brontë title in first edition, in any state whatsoever (No. 1 in Sadleir’s list of “Comparative Scarcities”). The Tenant is virtually unobtainable in an original publisher’s binding and is notoriously rare in any binding, in any condition.
“This epistolary novel presents a portrait of debauchery that is remarkable in light of the author’s sheltered life. It is the story of young Helen Graham’s disastrous marriage to the dashing drunkard Arthur Huntingdon—said to be modeled on the author’s wayward brother Branwell—and her flight from him to the seclusion of Wildfell Hall. Pursued by Gilbert Markham, who is in love with her, Graham refuses him and, by way of explanation, gives him her journal. There he reads of her wretched married life. Eventually, after Huntingdon’s death, they marry” (Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of Literature).
Smith, Brontë, 4. Parrish, p. 91.