London: Tinsley Brothers, 1873. Item #01306
Number One in Michael Sadleirs 'Comparative Scarcities'
Complete with all three half-titles
HARDY, Thomas. A Pair of Blue Eyes. A Novel. In Three Volumes. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1873.
First edition in book form (first published in Tinsleys’ Magazine from September 1872 to July 1873). One of presumably 500 copies printed. Three small octavo volumes. , 303, [1, blank]; , 311, [1, blank]; , 262 pp. Complete with half-titles.
Bound ca. 1910 by Zaehnsdorf in three quarter green crushed morocco gilt over green cloth boards ruled in gilt. Spines lettered and decoratively tooled in gilt. Marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. With the bookplate of Anthony Conyers Surtees on front pastedown. A superb copy of this very rare title.
According to Michael Sadleir in his 'Comparative Scarcities' A pair of Blue Eyes is number I (Sadleir I, p. 378).
A Pair of Blue Eyes. The book describes the love triangle of a young woman, Elfride Swancourt, and her two suitors from very different backgrounds. Stephen Smith is a socially inferior but ambitious young man who adores her and with whom she shares a country background.
“Hardy’s third published novel, A Pair of Blue Eyes has often been overshadowed by the popularity of its successor, Far from the Madding Crowd. Yet it remains notable, not merely for showing the full emergence of those ironies of plot which characterize his later and better-known work but also for its autobiographical qualities. The setting, Stephen Smith’s profession, his reasons for going to Cornwall, and even his embarrassment about his class origins: all these echo the circumstances of Hardy’s courtship of Emma Gifford only shortly before he began writing the novel. The portrait of Elfride herself is perhaps the most interesting of Hardy’s several attempts to capture the charm he found in Emma at their first meeting” (The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English).
Purdy, pp. 8-13; Sadleir 1112; Webb, pp. 6-7; Wolff 2986.