Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations

October 31st, 2014

Adam Smith“First and greatest classic of modern economic thought”: First Edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations 

American economist and historian Robert L. Heilbroner writes about Adam Smith’s influence on capitalism:

Adam Smith’s enormous authority resides, in the end, in the same property that we discover in Marx: not in any ideology, but in an effort to see the bottom of things.

Scottish economist and moral philosopher, Adam Smith, published his five-part publication, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, later referred to as simply, The Wealth of Nations, during the Scottish Enlightenment in 1776. The work was a result of seventeen years of notes and observations taken from conversations among economists about economical and societal conditions during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. This is outlined in the book of bibliographical reference, Printing and the Mind of Man:

The history of economic theory up to the end of the nineteenth century consists of two parts: the mercantilist phase which was based not so much on a doctrine as on a system of practice which grew out of social conditions; and the second phase which saw the development of the theory that the individual had the right to be unimpeded in the exercise of economic activity. While it cannot be said that Smith invented the latter theory…his work is the first major expression of it.

It took Smith ten years to produce An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations. His commentary during such an incremental time, the first years of the Industrial Revolution, sought to reform outdated theories of mercantilist and physiocratic economic thought with broader concepts we’re all familiar with today, such as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets.

Adam Smith's An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

An Early Edition of Adam Smith’s An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

He begins with the thought that labour is the source from which a nation derives what is necessary to it. The improvement of the division of labour is the measure of productivity and in it lies the human propensity to barter and exchange…Labour represents the three essential elements-wages, profit and rent-and these three also constitute income. From the working of the economy, Smith passes to its matter-’stock’-which compasses all that man owns either for his own consumption or for the return which it brings him.

Bound in period style full brown calf, with elaborately gilt-decorated spines, the 1776 publication ofAn Inquiry into The Wealth of Nationswas the first of only five editions that were published in Adam Smith’s lifetime. Said to be the birth of what we now know to be modern economic thought, the book has greatly influenced economists and philosophers of his time and those that followed, including Jean-Baptiste Say, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Malthus, and Ludwig von Misis.

The Wealth of Nations ends with a history of economic development, a definitive onslaught on the mercantile system, and some prophetic speculations on the limits of economic control…The Wealth of Nations is not a system, but as a provisional analysis it is complete convincing. The certainty of its criticism and its grasp of human nature have made it the first and greatest classic of modern economic thought.

Today, An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations is said to have been as influential in the shift of the field of economics as Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy was to the field of physics or Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was to the field of biology.

Captain Cook’s Voyages

October 20th, 2014

Captain James CookConsidered “really the first scientific navigator,” Captain James Cook made invaluable contributions to European knowledge of the Pacific Ocean, which he sailed for 12 years in 3 voyages. His accomplishments include the first recorded contact with Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, as well as the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. Within these achievements, however, are a multitude of triumphs, tragedies, and fascinating artifacts, all captured within the very rare first edition of Captain Cook’s Voyages.

In Captain Cook’s Voyages, the explorer first sets sail out of England in 1768. Before heading to New Zealand and becoming the first to map the entire country’s coastline, the captain anchored in Tahiti, where he watched with the Royal Society the small black disk of Venus travel across the Sun. When Cook finally reached Australia, making first recorded European contact with the continent, he and his crew were nearly shipwrecked by the Great Barrier Reef.

Many little known facts come up in Captain Cook’s Voyages, some bewildering, others downright fascinating. For example, while the captain did lose many of his crew to malaria in modern day Indonesia, he was also accredited with not having lost any members of his crew to scurvy, an unusual feat for that time period. Another of these facts comes up in Cooks second voyage:

Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time in history and thought he disproved the existence of the “Great Southern Continent”. He actually almost reached Antarctica on one occasion, but then turned towards Tahiti for supplies.

In Captain Cook’s third voyage, his goal was to reach the west coast of the American continent. He succeeded in doing so, charting the west coast of America from Northern California down to the Bering Strait.

Cook was the first navigator to accurately map the coast, and, by carrying away a collection of furs, he introduced the fur trade to the English and American traders, whose subsequent expeditions were based upon his discoveries… no other contemporaneously printed source narrative is of comparable importance.

Continuing on his voyage, Captain Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands, which he named the Sandwich Islands. It was here that Cook suffered a dramatic death, becoming a national hero. The uniformly bound set of his voyages documents a series of real life adventures and discoveries that would influence future explorers and eventually change the way we look at the world.

Don Quixote de la Mancha and the Life of Cervantes

October 13th, 2014

CervantesMiguel de Cervantes Saavedra led a life as fascinating as the characters in his novels, poems, and plays. Having spent much of his early life in Rome, Italy, Cervantes became enraptured in a Renaissance dream of art, architecture, and poetry. It was during this period of his life that the author became obsessed with capturing the fierce romanticism of the Renaissance era with the net of contemporary Spanish language.

Cervantes soon awoke from his dream when his enrollment in the Spanish Navy Marines, stationed in Naples, became an active reality. Through life-threatening illness, Cervantes fought for his God and king until he was shot and 3 times and loss the use of his left, sword-wielding arm. The heroic virtues the young soldier displayed in war, including chivalry, selflessness, and honor, would eventually live on in his magnum opus, Don Quixote.

Printed by Tho. Hodgkin and translated by John Phillips, Don Quixote derives much of its inspiration from the actual events of Cervantes life. The novel tells a tale of a man who aims to live out the romantic literature of his life by adventuring around the world with farmer-turned-squire, Sancho Panza.

Don Quixote is generally recognized as the first modern novel. Over those years, it has had an incredible influence on thousands of writers, from Dickens to Faulkner, who once said he reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.”

Don Quixote de la Mancha, lavishly illustrated

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote de la Manca, Rare Edition

Don Quixote, available as a first edition of the first illustrated edition in English, captured many of the themes that later came up in contemporary literature, including realism, meta theatre, and literary representation. The book earned Cervantes the title “The Prince of Wits,” and became so influential after his lifetime that the Spanish language was often referred to as “la lingua de Cervantes,” the language of Cervantes.

Vladimir Nabokov is quoted describing the vitality and evergreen significance of this incredible novel:

Don Quixote is greater today than he was in Cervantes’s womb. [He] looms so wonderfully above the skyline of literature, a gaunt giant on a lean nag, that the book lives and will live through [his] sheer vitality… He stands for everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish, and gallant. The parody has become a paragon.

In addition to this rare find, Don Quixote is available in a red leather-bound edition, not translated, and both an illustrated two-volume set and three-volume set translated by Charles Jarvis.

Don Quixote de la Mancha, lavishly illustrated

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s Don Quixote de la Manca, Rare Edition

American Presidents

October 7th, 2014
Dreams From My FatherFirst Edition, Signed by President Barack Obama

Dreams From My Father
First Edition, Signed by President Barack Obama

United States Presidents have carried out countless of important acts for our country, including the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 that allowed US citizens of any race or color to vote in any state, the New Deal relief programs that helped the country out of its Great Depression in the 1930s, and the initiation of Project Apollo, which culminated in the first moon landing by the United States in 1969. But who were the men in the Oval Office? What were intimate details of our past presidents’ moral beliefs and social upbringings?

Very many works have been written about the United States presidents, in the form of both memoirs and biographies. Even today’s leader of the free world, President Obama, has published the stories of his life in his memoir, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance:

All men live in the shadow of their fathers – the more distant the father, the deeper the shadow. Barack Obama describes his confrontation with this shadow in his provocative autobiography… and he also persuasively describes the phenomenon of belonging to two different worlds, and thus belonging to either.

There have been dozens of work written by and about United States presidents, covering topics as intimate as their childhood and upbringing and as compelling as their personal views on economics and politics. These accounts and opinions become even more fascinating over time, serving as testaments to important periods in US history, written by the men in charge of change.

Profiles in Courage First Edition, Signed by John F. Kennedy

Profiles in Courage First Edition, Signed by John F. Kennedy

While he was still the junior senator from Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage, a compilation of stories about eight influential people he considered courageous beyond measure:

The inspiring accounts of eight previous heroic acts by American patriots inspired the American public to remember the courage progress requires. Now, a half-century later, it remains a classic and a relevant testament to the national spirit that celebrates the most noble of human virtues. Kennedy relates these heroisms to sketches of American politicians who have risked their careers for principle. “A man does what he must,” he wrote, “in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.”

More or his views on morality and American freedom can be read about in JFK’s original campaign speech, delivered in St. Louis, Missouri in October of 1960 and complete with annotations in his hand.

While JFK was a president of progress and social change, Ulysses S. Grant served as an active agent of that change during his time in the Civil War, earning himself the title of one of the most valuable military commanders in history. Most know that President Grant was credited with his defeat over the Confederacy and therefore widely celebrated as a hero before his time in the White House. Today, the colorful details of his military career and time as president are available in a first edition, two-volume set, complete with a letter written by U.S. Grant to his childhood friend J. Russell Jones. Written while President Grant was dying of cancer and published by Mark Twain, Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant have been described as “the best memoirs of any general’s since Caesar.”

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant First Edition, Signed by John F. Kennedy

Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant First Edition, Signed by John F. Kennedy

Up to sixteen works by United States presidents are available today in their first editions, including those by or about Thomas Jefferson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, George Washington, Lyndon Johnson, and George H. W. Bush.

Charles Dickens & His Works

September 30th, 2014

Charles DickensMore than a famed writer and social critic of the Victorian period, Charles John Huffam Dickens touched the lives of people with the very human complexity of his fictional characters. Through his critically acclaimed novels, Dickens invoked profound thought and criticism around “social evils, injustice, and hypocrisy.”

In a commentary on a rare, extensive collection of his works, which include A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield and more, historians write:

"His imaginative freshness, his deep and sincere tenderness and pity, his whole-souled humor that is seldom sharpened into whit, his superabundance of creative energy, have built a deathless niche in the temple of fame for Charles Dickens."

So ingrained is his work in society, that the term Dickensian is often used to describe poor social conditions or comically repulsive characters. Each volume in this very attractive Dickens set is bound in half green morocco gilt with red floral inlays, and complete with full-page illustrations. Another collection of Dickens’ volumes offers the same titles, but with all books bound in full red morocco and containing two autograph letters signed by Dickens himself.

The Complete Works of Charles Dickens

The Works of Charles Dickens Signed by Charles Dickens.

Dickens’ writings reflect much of the injustice of his own life, as he was forced to leave school at an early age and work in a factory as a result of his father being thrown into debtors’ prison. In perhaps the most popular tale of poverty and hypocrisies of his time, Charles Dickens tells the story of flawed and entirely loveable orphan, Oliver Twist.

"Some characters are drawn with humorous realism, but for the most part humor is dimed by gloomy memories of the author’s own neglected childhood and sensational scenes are shrouded in an atmosphere generally eerie and sinister…"

First Edition, First Issue of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, Rare Book

First Edition, First Issue of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Naïve and completely clueless to any of his own wrongdoing, the young orphan Oliver ends up in the hands of an elderly criminal trainer, Fagin. The storyline continues, shrouded in a cloud of dark humor, sarcasm, and unromantic portrayals of the criminal and the impoverished. This 1838 first edition of the novel is available in three volumes, bound in original red cloth.

Arguably the most famous work of literary fiction to have ever existed, A Tale of Two Cities is available in its first edition, first issue. The storyline of this classic novel follows the tension between the French peasantry and aristocracy in London and France during the years leading up to the French Revolution. Written again in the perspective of an antihero, the 1859 published novel follows themes of “imprisonment, injustice, and cataclysmic violence, resurrection and the renunciation that makes renewal possible.”

First Edition, First Issue of a Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Rare Book

First Edition, First Issue of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens’ collection The Christmas Books: A Christmas Carol; The Chimes; The Battle of Life; Cricket on the Hearth; The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain, were published over the course of five years, from 1843 to 1848. Bound in full red polished calf and with gilt-decorated spines, these five volumes are responsible for developing the themes that have since been associated with the Christmas holiday itself, including “love and redemption, charity and mercy.” These books contain many features unique to the first editions, including publisher’s imprints and an advertising leaf for Oliver Twist.

Other rare, first edition publications of this world famous author are available, including: The Curse of Kehama, Dombey and Son, Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, Master Humphrey’s Clock, and The Life of Our Lord.

The Roosevelts

September 26th, 2014

The Roosevelts

In his fourteen-hour PBS special, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, Ken Burns highlights the extraordinary journey of the Roosevelt family’s American legacy in the White House. Beginning with Theodore’s birth in 1858 and ending with Eleanor’s death in 1962, the seven part film documents the influential family’s enormous part in shaping the country throughout the “years during which much of the modern world and the modern state was created.”

The narrator describes the fascinating dichotomy between the two Roosevelt presidents:

They belonged to different parties. They overcame different obstacles. They had different temperaments and styles of leadership. But it was the similarities and not the differences between the two that meant the most to history.

One of the major obstacles that FDR and First Lady Eleanor faced was the threat and eventual reality of World War II in 1939. In her Pulitzer Prize-Winning book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin offers a fascinating look into Franklin and Eleanor’s personal lives, as well as their impacts on the nation and the world, both separately and as a unit.

Published by Simon and Schuster in 1994, this first edition work strings together the story lines of FDR and Eleanor’s powerful marriage, Eleanor’s experience as First Lady, and the details of FDR’s White House as it impacted the nation and the world.

First Edition of No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Rare Book, Roosevelts

Signed First Edition of No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.
by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Both who were children of privilege came to see themselves as champions of the working man and earned the undying enmity of many of those with among they’d grown to manhood. They shared a sense of stewardship of the American land, an untamed love for people and politics, and a firm belief that the United States has a firm role to play in the wider world. Both were hugely ambitious, impatient with the drab notion that the mere making of money should be enough to satisfy any man or nation, and each took unabashed delight in the great power of his office to do good. Each displayed unbounded optimism and self-confidence. Each refused to surrender to physical limitations that might’ve destroyed them. And each had an uncanny ability to rally men and women to his cause.

Arguably the most popular president to this day, Theodore Roosevelt cast a large shadow for FDR to live up to. It’s fitting that it took acclaimed American writer Edmund Morris an entire biographical trilogy to capture the legacy of the 26th president of the United States.

Published in 1979 by Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt won a Pulitzer Prize and the 1980 National Book Award in Biography. Our first edition covers Theodore’s life beginning with his birth and tapering off at the exciting time when he first rose to presidency.

Theodore Rex continues with the fascinating details of Teddy Roosevelt’s time in office, during which time he built the Panama Canal, became the first president to speak out on conservation, and won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for his negotiations that ended the Russo-Japanese War. In the book, which we have a first edition of, intimate details come out about Teddy’s story, including his opinions about the constitution’s role in government at the turn of the century, such as those so beautifully outlined in the PBS special:

He believed that the government of the United States had to be much more central, energetic and assertive than the constitution had envisioned it, or we could not go on as a nation.

In an artful storytelling of history, Morris completes the trilogy with Colonel Roosevelt, which tells the journey of Theodore’s life as his health staggered and led to his eventual death in 1919.

First Edition of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Colonel Roosevelt

Signed First Edition of The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Rex, Colonel Roosevelt.
By Edmund Morris

Isaac Newton’s The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

September 2nd, 2014
Isaac Newton, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, First Edition, Rare Book

Isaac Newton’s The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
Rare, First English Edition

Einstein describes Newton’s The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy:

“”Newton’s Principia is generally described as the greatest work in the history of science. Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler had certainly shown the way; but where they described the phenomena they observed, Newton explained the underlying universal laws. The Principia provided the greatest synthesis of the cosmos, proving finally its physical unity. Newton showed that the important and dramatic aspects of nature that were subject to the universal law of gravitation could be explained, in mathematical terms, with a single physical theory. With him the separation of the natural and supernatural, of sublunar and superlunar worlds disappeared….”

Other scholars agree with Einstein. Newton’s work, published in 1687, is famous for having sparked a revolution in physics at its time. It helped connect mathematics and physics in a way that had not been explored before. Although there may not have been an immediate acceptance of Newton’s theories at the time, by the end of the 17th century a different kind of science had emerged from his work.

Isaac Newton, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, First Edition, Rare Book

Isaac Newton’s The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

With Newton’s physical theories came mathematical methods that are now known in the field of calculus. Newton writes in the preface of the book,

“And therefore we offer this work as mathematical principles of philosophy. For all the difficulty of philosophy seems to consist in this—from the phenomena of motions to investigate the forces of Nature, and then from these forces to demonstrate the other phenomena…”

In The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, Newton lays out the general principles that he has discovered, instantly making him the most famous scientist in Europe at the time.

Some controversy has been attached to Newton’s publication and findings. Some historians believe that Robert Hooke’s letters to Newton, as well as his own findings, may have had some influence on the book. Hooke himself believed that his discoveries had been taken from him when the book was published. Despite this, Newton’s name lives on as the mastermind behind the theories in his famous book.

We are honored to have a first edition in English of this rare, historic piece of history. Published in London in 1729 by Benjamin Motte, this first edition in English of Newton’s Principia is in two volumes. It is bound in full leather, with gilt tiles and stamping to the spine. With forty-six folding engraved plates and two folding charts, this excellent near fine copy of this landmark work has a few leaves with light foxing and pages lightly toned.

To learn more about this rare, historic book, click here.

Isaac Newton, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, First Edition, Rare Book

Isaac Newton’s The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

Edward Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

August 17th, 2014

Edward GibbonEdward Gibbon, an English historian and member of Parilament in the 18th century, is most known for his six volume work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This work is still highly regarded by both historians and critics, over 200 years after its publication.

Giobbon was born in Putney, Surrey, in 1737, the only surviving child of his parents Edward and Judith Gibbon. He was sickly child and was eventually sent away to Westiminster School, where he first began to read and take a liking to literature. At 15, he attended Magdalen College and learned quickly he was not the scholarly type. However, while attending Oxford, Gibbon converted to Roman Catholicism and immediately after left Oxford to move to Switzerland. Just two years later, after his father threatened to take his inheritance away, Gibbon re-converted to Protestantism.

In 1758, at the age of 21, Edward Gibbon returned to England and published his first book, which distinguished him amongst his peers and brought his name to prominence in the area. He had several literary failures afterwards until he published The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire from 1776-1788.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Emprire is an explanation for the fall of the Roman Empire. One of the reasons Gibbon’s book has stayed known throughout history is because it is one of the first pieces of works that uses sources to trace back and write about history. This book is known for its critical view of Christianity and Gibbon received a lot of criticism for it at the time. Gibbon is known as one of the sons of the Enlightenment, having openly criticized the religious Dark Ages.

Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Rare Edition

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
by Edward Gibbon

We have several rare editions of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, including one from the Library of Andrew Dickson White (Diplomat and Educator who founded Cornell University). We also have a first edition of Gibbon’s Memoirs and Writings, titled Miscellaneous Works With Memoirs of His Life and Writings: Composed Himself.

Although The History was met with praise and made Gibbon one of the leaders of the literary community in Europe, Edward Gibbon was not happy. Following his completion of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon fell into a deep depression and physical anguish. He died in 1794 of Peritonitis at the young age of 56. View all of our works by Edward Gibbon here.

 

Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Rare Edition

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
by Edward Gibbon

Remembering the Life and Works of Nadine Gordimer

August 4th, 2014

Nadine GordimerNadine Gordimer was a famous South African writer and political activist, using her talents to help shed light on moral and racial issues. She was known for her involvement in HIV/AIDS causes as well as the anti-apartheid movement. She was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991.

Nadine Gordimer was born outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1923. Her parents were both immigrants from outside of South Africa and Gordimer experienced repression from the government from an early age. At age 25, Gordimer moved to Johannesburg where she began taking classes and writing. Her first publication Face to Face was a collection of several of her early stories. Gordimer first became recognized and brought to the mainstream when her story “A Watcher of the Dead” was accepted into the New Yorker.

Nadine Gordimer, A World of Strangers, First Edition, Signed, Rare Book

Nadine Gordimer’s A World of Strangers
Signed First Edition

Gordimer became active in politics and the anti-apartheid movement in 1960. She is even known to have edited Nelson Mandela’s “I Am Prepared to Die” speech. Her work in anti-apartheid led the South African government to ban two of her books for over a decade. The Late Bourgeois World , and A World of Strangers were both banned for their political themes. We have two first editions of Gordimer’s second novel that are both signed by the author on the title page. You can view them here.

In 1974, Gordimer wrote The Conservationist, which went on to win the Booker Prize. We have an excellent first edition of this novel which is signed by the author on the title page.

In 1979, Gordiner wrote the novel Burger’s Daughter. This famous novel follows a group of white anti-apartheid activists in South Africa, seeking to overthrow the South African government. This book was also banned in South Africa for a period of time. We carry two first editions of Burger’s Daughter, both signed by the author on the title page. You can view them here.

Gordimer died peacefully at age 90 on Monday, July 14th, 2014. Her legacy, body of work, and support of causes in South Africa will never be forgotten.

We also have first editions of My Son’s Story, On The Mines, Echoes of an Autobiography. View all of Nadine Gordimer’s works that we carry here.

 

Henry Fielding and The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

July 7th, 2014
Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, rare book, First Edition, Owned by Theodore Roosevelt

Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
First Edition, Once Owned by Theodore Roosevelt, has his bookplates in each volume

Henry Fielding, born in Sharpham, England, was an English novelist that was famous for his dry humor and satirical writing style. His novel The History of Tom Jones, a Founling is his most famous work and what Fielding is truly remembered for, over 250 years after his death.

Fielding’s literary career did not start until he moved to London in 1728. He started writing plays and was quite harsh in his depiction of the government at the time, stirring up controversy in London. It is said that the Theatrical Act of 1737 was in direct response to one of his plays. After this Act was passed, there could not be any more political satire in the theatre and Fielding lost his job. He then became a lawyer to support his family.

Throughout this time, Fielding continued to publish his political writings under a pseudonym. In 1746, he anonymously published the story The Female Husband, a fictional account of a transvestite conning another woman into marriage.

Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, rare book, First Edition, First printing run

Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
First Edition, One of a first printing run of only 2,000 copies

In 1749, Henry Fielding published the novel that would make him famous, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. This novel is said to be one of the first English prose works to be named a ‘novel,’ and is a large piece of work divided into 18 smaller books.

This comedic novel follows the main character Tom Jones, an abandoned child, who is found by a wealthy member of English society. Tom falls in love with a girl from a higher class and their romance is forbidden, making for both a controversial story and a comment on social norms at the time. The book touched on matters that had rarely been written about publicly until its time, including prostitution and graphic sexual themes.

Tom Jones was made into several movies and even adapted three times into an Opera. John Allen Stevenson writes this of Tom

Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, rare book, First Edition, Owned by Theodore Roosevelt

Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
First Edition, Once Owned by Theodore Roosevelt, has his bookplates in each volu

Jones, from The Real History of Tom Jones:

“Such was the demand that all 2,500 copies in print had already been sold by the date announced for its official publication, a phenomenon that one observer believed to be ‘an unheard-of case.’ Tom Jones quickly sold 10,000 copies, making it one of the great best-sellers of its time; it has never since been out of print.”

We have a rare First Edition of Tom Jones that once belonged to Theodore Roosevelt and still has his “Qui plantavit curabit” bookplate in each of the 18 volumes. We also have a rare First Edition of Tom Jones that was one of a first printing run of only 2,000 copies with errata leaf in Volume I, the errata uncorrected, and all cancels and final blanks, K12 in Volume I and R12 in Volume IIU (Rothschild 850). This edition is finely bound in full crushed morocco by Bayntun, with red and black morocco spine labels lettered in gilt, raised bands, blind-stamped inner dentelles. A very nice set of first editions, finely bound by Bayntun.

To view all of our works by Henry Fielding, click here.

Have you read Tom Jones? Please tell us your experience with this novel in the comments below or on our Facebook Page.

Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, rare book, First Edition, First printing run

Henry Fielding’s The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
First Edition, One of a first printing run of only 2,000 copies