Queen Mab. SHELLEY, sshe.

Queen Mab

New York: Wright & Owen, 1831. Stated second American edition. 12mo (18.5cm). In original cream paper-covered boards, backed in light green muslin, with original printed paper label to spine, largely intact; plain endpapers; viii [9] 10-120pp. Ink ownership inscription of H. A. Fletcher to title page. Temoin on final leaf of text. Straight, tight, and clean, with general mild wear to boards, spine faded, one or two minor chips to spine label, with some foxing (heaviest on endleaves): Very Good. Includes an 8-page preface by Frances Wright and Robert Dale Owen.

The uncommon second American printing of Shelley's revolutionary epic poem, published by the radical utopian duo of Frances Wright and Robert Dale Owen. A favorite book among the Owenites, and unofficially adopted in the 1830's as the "Bible of the Chartists," Queen Mab was first issued privately by Shelley in 1813. It remained unnoticed by the public until a London piracy of 1821. That same year another piracy, with a false New York imprint, was issued by the prolific pirater of Shelley William Benbow; this London-printed piracy is often and incorrectly referred to as the first American edition.

The true first American edition was "published by Frances Wright and Robert Dale Owen in New York in 1831" and "reprinted in the same year with a simplified title page bearing the words 'Second Edition.' Subsequent reprints of this edition with Wright & Owen's preface were made in 1842 and 1852. It is noteworthy that in these latter editions [Wright and Owen] are referred to as the 'First American Publishers.'" (George T. Goodspeed in The Colophon, March 1939).

A survey of institutional copies finds 19 locations in North America, but we note no recorded copy of the second edition in auction records for at least 25 years (for comparison, we note a comparatively plentiful 40+ institutional locations for the privately-issued 1813 edition, of which no fewer than five copies have appeared at auction in the last decade). Cf. AMERICAN IMPRINTS 9172.

Price: $1,500.00

Go Back