Lot 200
  • 200

Conrad, Joseph

2,000 - 3,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Conrad, Joseph
  • Fantazja Almayera [Almayer's Folly]. Warsaw:  Tow[arzystwo] Wydawnicze "Ignis", 1923
8vo, first Polish edition translated by Aniela Zagórska, number 173 of 5200 copies, presentation copy inscribed by the author to his "first reader" ("To Edward Garnett | the first reader of Almayer's | Folly in the year 1894 | and ever since the dear | friend of all my writing | life, never failing in | encouragement - and | inspiring criticism | with love | Joseph Conrad.") on half-title, frontispiece portrait, original wrappers, collector's folding box with perspex window, largely unopened, first gathering becoming loose, some spotting and browning, some creases and loss to corners, loss to spine, upper cover detached with some loss, book label to half-title

Edward [William] Garnett (1868--1937) was an Influential critic, man of letters, publisher’s reader and nurturer of talents such as D.H. Lawrence, Edward Thomas, and John Galsworthy, as well as Conrad. Garnett was the key influence in Conrad’s early career after their first meeting in 1894 when, as reader for T. Fisher Unwin, he recommended Almayer’s Folly for publication. From then until about 1900 Garnett was constantly at hand as a sympathetic friend and mentor, in effect performing the duties of an unofficial literary agent, as well as being a key reader of his work-in-progress and a reviewer of his fiction. Crucially, during the period 1896-7 he helped the author through the difficult process of abandoning The Rescuer and The Sisters (see lot 208), and moving him towards the writing of ‘sea fiction’ such as The Nigger of the Narcissus (which Conrad subsequently dedicated to him). At the same time he steered Conrad away from Unwin and towards new publishing connections such as William Heinemann and William Blackwood, and introduced him to other writers (such as his future collaborator Ford Madox Ford) and further men of influence in literary circles. After 1900, when Conrad became more established and had J.B. Pinker as his professional agent (see sale I) there was more distance between the men, perhaps compounded by Conrad's reaction to Garnett's keen Russophilia and the Russian circle which gathered at the home of Garnett and his wife Olive at their Cearne home. But the intimacy was renewed latterly, from around 1916, with Conrad supplying an introduction to Garnett's Turgenev: A Study, and then sending Garnett drafts of both The Rescue and Suspense. In 1923 Conrad summarised his debt: “Straight from the sea into your arms, as it were. How much you have done to pull me together intellectually only the Gods that brought us together know...” (Letters from Conrad, 1895-1924, pp.326-7).

Conrad also became acquainted and sometimes friendly with other members of the Garnett family, such as Edward's father Richard (1835-1906, Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum), his brother Robert (1866-1932), a senior partner in the law firm Darley, Cumberland, who looked after the novelist during his breakdown in 1910, and his son David (1892-1981), a novelist associated with the Bloomsbury Group.


Edward Garnett, authorial inscription; David Garnett, book label

Catalogue Note

David Garnett, writing in Great Friends: Portraits of Seventeen Writers, notes that '...a few months before Conrad's death in 1924 Edward [Garnett] went down to stay for the weekend.  As he was leaving, and the car was waiting to take him to the station, Conrad exclaimed, "Oh, there is something I want to give you" and rushed back to the house, to come back a minute or two later with the translation of his first book Almayer's Folly,into Polish. No doubt Conrad had been gratified by being recognised in Poland. Edward could not read a word of it, but the inscription on the flyleaf made up for that.' Garnett then quotes this inscription, and declares 'such warm, impulsive affection was characteristic of him.'

Also included with this lot is a photograph of David Garnett as a boy.