309
309
Wilde, Oscar
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. A TRIVIAL COMEDY FOR SERIOUS PEOPLE. LONDON: LEONARD SMITHERS AND CO, 1899
Estimate
60,00080,000
LOT SOLD. 118,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
309
Wilde, Oscar
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. A TRIVIAL COMEDY FOR SERIOUS PEOPLE. LONDON: LEONARD SMITHERS AND CO, 1899
Estimate
60,00080,000
LOT SOLD. 118,750 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Library of an English Bibliophile Part VII

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London

Wilde, Oscar
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. A TRIVIAL COMEDY FOR SERIOUS PEOPLE. LONDON: LEONARD SMITHERS AND CO, 1899
4to (224 x 177mm.), FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR TO FRANCES FORBES-ROBERTSON ("To Frankie | on her happy marriage: | from her | old friend and | comrade, | The author. | June '99") on the verso of the half title, NUMBER 5 OF 12 COPIES ON JAPANESE VELLUM, original vellum with lettering and motifs in gilt, collector's morocco backed folding box, some minor soiling to binding
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Literature

Mason 383

Catalogue Note

GIVEN TO WILDE'S FRIEND AS A WEDDING PRESENT; at the time of the wedding, Wilde was living a life of poverty as an exile in Paris. In a letter which originally accompanied the gift, Wilde wrote:

"So, dear Frankie, you are married, and your husband is a 'king of men'! That is as it should be: those who wed the daughters of the gods are kings, or become so. I have nothing to offer you but one of my books, that absurd comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, but I send it to you, in the hopes it may live on one of your bookshelves and be allowed to look at you from time to time. Its dress is pretty: it wears Japanese vellum, and belongs to a limited family of nine: it is not on speaking terms with the popular edition: it refuses to recognise the poor relations whose value is only seven and sixpence." (The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde (2000), p.1144).

Frances Forbes-Robertson (1866-1956) was a painter, actress and novelist, and one of the eleven siblings of Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, an actor who was thought of as one of the finest actors of the nineteenth century. Wilde counted a number of the family amongst his friends.

Wilde had previously sent a copy of Salomé to Frances in February 1893, and, writing from prison in April 1897, instructed Robbie Ross to prepare two copies of the manuscript which would become De Profundis, one for 'the Lady of Wimbledon' (Adela Schuster) and the other to send to Frances, explaining: "These sweet women will be interested to know something of what is happening to my soul" (ibid, p.782). However, the Prison Commission would not permit the sending of the manuscript to Ross, and it was instead given to Wilde when he was released in May.

The Library of an English Bibliophile Part VII

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London