CAROLINE NORTON’S COPY: ‘ANYONE STEALING IT WILL BE PURSUEDWITH UNRELENTING VENGEANCE’

The Improvisatore: or, Life in Italy. From the Danish … Translated by Mary Howitt. In two Volumes … London: Richard Bentley … 1845.

London: Richard Bentley … 1845

2 vols., 12mo., pp. [4], 316; [4], 331, [1]; a very good copy in later nineteenth-century tan half calf and marbled boards, spine in compartments, lettered direct; portraits of Mary and her husband William Howitt cut from a periodical pasted to first blanks. Caroline Norton’s copy, inscribed in both volume ‘Caroline Elizabeth S. Norton Her Book. Any one stealing it will be pursued with unrelenting Vengeance 1845’, and below this, in the second volume, ‘My dear dead lady, I bought it: spare me. Maurice Hewlett 1894'.

£550

Approximately:
US $695€642

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The Improvisatore: or, Life in Italy. From the Danish … Translated by Mary Howitt. In two Volumes … London: Richard Bentley … 1845.

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First edition in English of Andersen’s autobiographical novel reflecting his travels in Italy. The poet and novelist Caroline Norton (1808-1877) obviously valued it highly, and there are pencilled marginal scorings and underlings throughout. She was a granddaughter of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and an activist for women’s rights and divorce reform after the scandal of her affair with the prime minister, Lord Melbourne. The subsequent purchaser, Maurice Hewlett (1861-1923) was a poet and historical novelist.1

Howitt’s translation ‘gave great pleasure and satisfaction to the author’, though he assumed, wrongly, that she had made a fortune out of it. She in turn thought Andersen ‘over-sentimental and egotistical’ (Mary Hewitt, An Autobiography).

Woolf 138.

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