London: Chatto and Windus, 1886. Item #01728
A Presentation Copy
In the Incredibly Rare Original Printed Dust Jacket
GREENAWAY, Kate (artist). HARTE, Bret. The Queen of the Pirate Isle. Illustrated by Kate Greenaway. Engraved and Printed by Edmund Evans. London: Chatto and Windus, 1886.
First edition, binding A. Presentation Copy from the Author to Lady Alfred Paget signed and dated London December 2d, 1886.
Octavo (8 1/2 x 6 1/4 in; 216 x 159 mm). 58 pp. Color frontispiece and twenty-seven text illustrations in color by Kate Greenaway. All edges gilt.
Publisher's original tan cloth, covers pictorially decorated in colors (the front cover with the illustration from page 13, the lower cover with the illustration from page 16), all edges gilt. Cloth a little bit soiled, lower corner of rear board with small loss of cloth. In the incredibly rare original gray paper pictorial dust jacket, printed in brown. The jacket has been miraculously and almost invisibly backed by the master book restorer, Bruce Levy. A spectacular presentation copy, as rare as can be in the original dust jacket.
Of the twenty-four copies to come to auction within the last thirty-six years only four were in Binding A, only one possessed the dust jacket, and not a single one was signed.
"Mr. Bret Harte has written a children's Christmas book, with the alluring title of "The Queen of the Pirate Isle," which will be illustrated by twenty-five  drawings by Miss Kate Greenaway, printed in colors in the text. The result of this combination of one of the most English of artists with one of the most American of authors will be awaited with unusual interest" (The Nation, Vol. 43, No. 1102, August 12, 1886, p. 138).
The Queen of the Pirate Isle is a short story set in and around a mining camp in gold-rush California - a milieu that features in almost all of Bret Harte's work. The four young protagonists - imaginative Polly (the "Queen"), her cousin Hickory Hunt, their Chinese "page" Wan Lee, and neighbor-boy Patsey - are all children, have extremely vivid imaginations, and Harte relates their adventures playing pirate - in fantasy, dream, and reality.
Bret Harte lived in London from the 1880s through his death in 1902. Lady Alfred Paget, née Cecilia Wyndham (1830-1914) "a woman of remarkable intellectual powers" (NY Times obituary, May 4, 1914), was a lady in waiting to Queen Victoria (who was godmother to one of the Paget children), and owned Chateau Garibondy on the Riviera in the south of France where she entertained royalty and the intellectual cream of Great Britain. She likely met Harte at one of his popular London lectures, always attended by a distinguished audience.
BAL 7337. Sharnhorst 902. Schuster and Engen 165.1f.