ELIOT, GEORGE. 1819-1880.
Middlemarch. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1871-72.
8 parts. 8vo (177 x 119 mm). Original green decorated wrappers. Custom chemises and quarter morocco slipcases. Light creasing to spines, spines of parts 1 & 2 fragile, a few chips to extremities, otherwise a bright, clean copy.
Provenance: Douglas C. Ewing (bookplates to chemises).
FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL PARTS. Advertisements conforming to Parrish with the following exceptions: ads differing on wrappers of part 1, 2 extra pp of ads at back of parts 1 & 2, without 4 pp ads at front and 4 pp ads at back of part 8. Middlemarch was something of an experiment in the serial form, appearing as it did in eight irregularly published 'books,' each with its own title. As John Sutherland notes, the format gave author and publisher simultaneous access to two markets, offering both "the stiff covers and narrative wholeness associated with the library volume" and "the price and deferred payment associated with the serial." Eliot's husband and acting business agent George Henry Lewes first proposed the idea to Blackwood, who required some persuading after the relative commercial failure of Felix Holt, which had sold far fewer copies than were printed. A compromise was struck, Blackwood printed close to 6,000 copies (Lewes had suggested 10,000), and the parts issue of Middlemarch sold out completely. The experiment was repeated with Daniel Deronda, also with great success. See Sutherland, Victorian Novelists, pp 188 ff. Parrish 29-31; Sadleir 815 (book form).