New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1853. Item #00460
"The Heat of Madness, Drug-Induced Hallucination and Desperate Desire"
[BRONTË, Charlotte]. Villette. By Currer Bell, Author of “Jane Eyre,” “Shirley,” &c. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1853.
First American edition (in wrappers). Octavo (8 7/8 x 5 9/16 inches; 226 x 142 mm.). 184 pp. plus , 4 pp. of advertisements. Text in double columns. Harper’s Library of Select Novels, No. 182.
Original brownish orange printed wrappers ( rear wrapper in facsimile). Front wrapper has a few short tears. A little bit of foxing. Otherwise an excellent copy. Although published simultaneously with the first American edition in cloth the edition in wrappers is much rarer.
"Charlotte Brontë wrote not one but two masterpieces. Most readers know Jane Eyre. Even non-readers feel they know it, because they have seen a film version, or just because it is a part of our common culture. But Villette, Brontë’s last and – to my mind – greatest novel, is less popular, perhaps because it is so uncompromising and so original. It is high time it was recognised as the blazing work it is. Reading it you enter an area of experience – of passion and disappointment and the violent return of the repressed – that has seldom been so lucidly articulated. It is also an astonishing piece of writing, a book in which phantasmagorical set pieces alternate with passages of minute psychological exploration, and in which Brontë’s marvellously flexible prose veers between sardonic wit and stream-of-consciousness, in which the syntax bends and flows and threatens to dissolve completely in the heat of madness, drug-induced hallucination and desperate desire" (Lucy Hughes-Hallett, The Telegraph, Jan. 3, 2014).
“The novel, like its predecessor The Professor (then unpublished), is based on the author’s experiences in Brussels, here renamed Villette, and also has as its centre a pupil-teacher relationship…The novel combines a masterly portrayal of Belgian daily life with a highly personal use of the elements of Gothic fiction; Charlotte Brontë uses hints of the supernatural…to heighten the impression of her heroine’s nervous isolation and heroic fortitude; but all the apparitions are found to have realistic explanations” (The Oxford Companion to English Literature).
“Villette was published on March 4, 1853. 50 cents. It was published simultaneously in cloth [at $1. Twelvemo, with collation: [2, blank], [2, advertisements], iv, 502, [2, advertisements] pp. plus  pp. advertisements for books published by Harper & Brothers] and copies in either binding constitute the first American edition” (Smith).
Smith, Brontë, pp. 146-152.