London: Leonard Smithers and Co, 1899. First and Limited Edition. Hardcover. First printing, no. 133 of 1000 copies, octavo size, 168 pp., with acrylic slipcase. Near fine. Item #CNMH01
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), known for his lively wit and fashionable dress, became one of the best-known personalities in London, and his works are still read and performed today. He wrote brilliant plays such as "Salome", "Lady Windermere's Fan", and "An Ideal Husband", as well as his only novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray".
He is perhaps best known for this play, "The Importance of Being Earnest", a lively comedy filled with babies lost in suitcases and romance. The play's "major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways" (n.b., per Wiki) and, as with all good romance stories, has a happy ending. First produced in London on Valentine's Day, 1895, there have been countless stage productions as well as three different adaptations to the screen, the most recent in 2002, which included material cut in the initial stage production.
This the first printing of the first edition, and is bound in a manner uniform with the two comedies previously published at Wilde's insistence.
___DESCRIPTION: Bound in full aubergine linen over boards, gilt decorations by Charles Shannon on both boards and spine, gilt lettering on the spine, fore- and bottom edges uncut, small (approx. 1") embossed stamp on the lower fore-edge corner "SWWIS V George Street Bath" (presumably a prior owner), limitation size 1000 copies, this no. 133; octavo size (8.5" by 6.5"), pagination: [i-xvi] 1-152. Housed in an acrylic slipcase made by the prior owner to protect the book while still allowing it to be seen.
___CONDITION: Near fine, with clean boards, straight corners with a bare hint of rubbing, a strong, square text block with solid hinges, the interior is clean and bright, the sole prior owner marking we see the embossed stamp mentioned above; some light sunning to the spine, a bit of wear to the head and tail of the spine, text block slightly cocked. Acrylic slipcase fine overall, strong and sturdy, with a few scattered marks. Even with these minor issues a lovely example of one of Wilde's most endearing works.
___CITATION: Mason no. 381.
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