ELIOT, GEORGE. 1819-1880. Scenes of Clerical Life. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1858.

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Lot 77
ELIOT, GEORGE. 1819-1880.
Scenes of Clerical Life. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1858.

US$ 20,000 - 30,000
£ 15,000 - 23,000
ELIOT, GEORGE. 1819-1880.
Scenes of Clerical Life. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1858.
2 volumes. 8vo (199 x 118 mm). [vi], 366; [vi], 381, [1] pp. Half-titles. Publisher's dark maroon cloth titled in gilt and stamped in blind, chocolate endpapers. Custom chemises and quarter morocco slipcase. Text blocks cracked at center, rubbing to spine, wear to extremities and edges, cloth split along rear joint of vol 1.
Provenance: Isaac Evans (annotation on half-title of vol 1); W. Griffiths (ownership inscription dated "Shelsley Rectory, February 1891" to half-title of vol 1); Frederick R. Evans (ownership inscription, "FRE," dated June 1, 1900, to half-title of vol 1).

FIRST EDITION, THE ELIOT FAMILY COPY. A note by W. Griffiths on the half-title of vol 1 states: "This copy of the First Edition of / the Scenes of Clerical Life came / to me from Mr. Evans' Library / at Griff's, and was valued / at £2.10.0." At the foot of the page is another note reading "Given to me by WG & EG June 1, 1900 / FRE." Eliot's brother, Isaac Evans, lived at Griff House, Eliot's family home, until his death in 1890. It was after the first two stories in Scenes of Clerical Life appeared in Blackwood's, and while she was still working on the third, that Eliot wrote to Isaac about her relationship with the still legally married George Henry Lewes, a revelation which would result in her brother's estrangement. Isaac became the inspiration for the character of Tom in The Mill on the Floss, Eliot's major novel about estranged siblings, published two years later. Letters in the Warwickshire County archives to Isaac's son, the Reverend Frederick R. Evans (Eliot's nephew), from the Reverend W. Griffiths, the husband of Isaac's daughter Edith (Eliot's niece), record one half of the brothers-in-law's debate over the (im)morality of Eliot's relationship with Lewes. In the present copy, W. Griffiths has inked names, presumably of Warwickshire locals, in the margins beside the names of five of the characters in the book's first story, "The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton." Sadleir deems this, Eliot's first fiction, the scarcest of her works; only 1050 copies were printed. Sadleir 818, pp 377-78. See Hardy, George Eliot: A Critic's Biography pp 8 ff.
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