Moby-Dick; or, the Whale. New York: Harper, 1851
FIRST AMERICAN EDITION. “Moby Dick is a story of the sea … Moby-Dick is a portrait of the whale” (Lewis Mumford). As late as May of 1850 Melville described this first Moby-Dick as “the Whaling voyage” in a letter to Richard Henry Dana: “It will be a strange sort of book, I fear, blubber is blubber you know; tho you may get oil out of it, the poetry runs as hard as sap from a frozen maple tree & to cook the thing up one needs throw in a little fancy. The descriptions are the finest, most accurate and entertaining of any narrative of sea life that has ever been published.”
Walt Whitman’s Books. [Washington, D.C., 1872]
Whitman designed this rare broadside to promote his works in bookstores. The broadside advertises four of the author’s most recent publications, together with a biography of Whitman by his friend John Burroughs. Leaves of Grass was in its fifth edition by this date. Although the broadside was designed for bookstore displays, Whitman referred to it as a “show bill” in a note to W. D. O’Connor.
LONGFELLOW ,HENRY WADSWORTH
Early Draft Autograph Manuscript of “Excelsior,” incorporated into an Autograph Letter Signed to Samuel Cutler Ward (“My dear Excelsior”).. Cambridge, 30 September 1841
In this outstanding literary letter, Longfellow writes in full and sends an early draft of his beloved poem “Excelsior,” commenting on its meaning and significance and writing out all thirty-six lines.
Finnegans Wake. London: Faber, 1939
FIRST EDITION, the deluxe issue, one of only 425 numbered copies signed by James Joyce. The notoriously difficult Finnegans Wake is probably the most ambitious work of literature of the twentieth century. The writing of Finnegans Wake occupied Joyce’s life from 1922, the year of the publication of Ulysses, until 1939, two years before the author’s death.
STOWE, HARRIET BEECHER
Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, life among the lowly. Boston: Jewett, 1852
FIRST EDITION, FIRST PRINTING. “These books are of such paramount historical importance that it is difficult to evaluate them as literature” (Merle Johnson). “Three thousand copies were sold on the day of publication, and before its first anniversary, over 300,000 copies were sold in America … More than twenty London editions appeared in 1852, so the English audience must have been as large as the American. No other American novel has been translated into so many foreign languages” (Grolier/American).