Lot 211
  • 211

Conrad, Joseph

5,000 - 7,000 GBP
4,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Conrad, Joseph
  • The Nigger of the "Narcissus". London: William Heinemann, 1898
  • paper
8vo, first English edition, presentation copy inscribed by the author to his then close friend Stephen Reynolds, leaf [Pi]1 at the beginning with Press Opinions on recto and verso, 4pp. of advertisements at the end (leaves S1, S2), original slate grey smooth cloth, upper cover stamp in gold with title within life ring device, Cagle's 'b' binding with publisher's name at foot of spine of a uniform 3mm. in height, later ownership inscription on half-title, endpapers with some minor damp-staining, foxing and offsetting, upper hinge starting, slight wear and minor staining to binding 


Stephen Reynolds (1881--1919), authorial inscription; "P.L"., later ownership inscription dated 1940; Roger Rechler, the sale of his library at Christie's New York, 11 October 2002, lot 49


Cagle A3c1(b) [but without the 16-page catalogue bound in at the end]

Catalogue Note

A fine presentation copy to a fellow outsider. Conrad inscribes this important early novel "To | Stephen Reynolds | fisherman, architect and man | of Great Faith (the Faith that moves | mountains) this copy of a be- | praised and obscure work is | affectionately presented in memo- | ry of the auspicious year | 1908, the year of the | First Book ---- | Joseph Conrad".

The homosexual writer Stephen Reynolds (1881-1919), who was introduced to Conrad, Edward Thomas and others by Edward Garnett in the early years of the century, was born to a Wiltshire farming family and was originally a devout Christian before converting to a kind of mystical pantheism. In him Conrad probably recognised a kindred spirit in terms of his outsider status, fierce sense of justice and affinity with the sea. Reynolds  wrote for the Weekly Critical Review in 1902 before going on to write a novel The Holy Mountain (published later in 1909), and a memoir A Poor Man's House (1908). This latter work, which is the one Conrad refers to in his inscription, was based on Reynold's close association with the working-class family of Robert William Wooley, a fisherman friend he had met in Sidmouth in 1903 and whose family house in Bedford Square he shared - together with eight of Wooley's children - from around 1907 until shortly before his death. Reynolds' memoir, an acutely observed "Orwellian picture of working-class life from the inside" (Christopher Scoble, Oxford DNB) made him a household figure overnight and garnered strong praise from Conrad, who called it "a book for which one seems to have waited all the time" (Collected Letters, IV, p.134). Reynolds went on to write Alongshore (1910), a lyrical evocation of life where sea and land meet, and engage in significant political activity: through his membership of the inshore fisheries committee of 1914 he "secured almost single-handed a revolution in longshore fisheries policy" (Scoble, op.cit.).

This copy is as Cagle's 'b' binding, but with 2 pages of "Press Opinions" replacing the second blank leaf at the beginning, and without the 16-page catalogue of publisher's announcements at the end.