WILDE | The Importance of Being Earnest, 1898, one of 100 copies, presentation copy inscribed to Reginald Turner
Estimate: 20,000 - 30,000 GBP
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. A TRIVIAL COMEDY FOR SERIOUS PEOPLE BY THE AUTHOR OF LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN. LEONARD SMITHERS & CO., 1899
4to, FIRST EDITION, NUMBER 11 OF 100 LARGE PAPER COPIES SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR, PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY THE AUTHOR ("To | Reginald Turner | from his friend | the author. | Feby. '99 | Pignus Amicitiae") on reverse of half-title, original light red-brown cloth, lettered in gilt on spine with designs by Charles Shannon, collector's chemise and purple morocco-backed slipcase, browning to endpapers, binding slightly worn with spine slightly soiled, spine bumped at head and foot, cloth slightly cockled
AN IMPORTANT ASSOCIATION COPY TO WILDE'S SUPPORTIVE AND TRUSTED FRIEND, REGINALD TURNER (1869-1938).
Mason does not provide a date for the publication of this, the limited signed edition of Wilde's masterpiece. Wilde appears to have inscribed a small number of copies during February 1899, as here.
Wilde mentioned this copy in a letter to Turner sent on 3 February 1899 (see Complete Letters, London, 2000, pp. 1121-1122). Wilde notes "I am sending you, of course, a copy of my book... I hope you will find a place for me amongst your nicest books, not near anything by Hichens or George Moore. I should like it to be within speaking distance of Dorian Gray...")
Reginald Turner, the journalist and wit, was the illegitimate son of Lionel Lawson (an uncle of Edward Lawson, the proprietor of the Daily Telegraph). Turner published a number of novels and was a lifelong friend of Max Beerbohm. He was described as 'a dear fellow' by Wilde in 1894 and as 'the Boy-Snatcher of Clements Inn' in 1897. Turner was one of the few who did not renounce his friendship with Wilde and would later nurse him during his final illness.
Reginald Turner, inscription and engraved bookplate by A. Wyon ("Ex Libris | R T"); Maxwell Hunley Rare Books, Beverly Hills; Christie's New York, 9 June 2004, lot 122 ("Property of a Texan")
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